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Yosemite Valley - Solitude

I've been jonesing to get to Yosemite for a couple of months, but my "day job" has kept me VERY busy. I wanted to get there before school let out for the summer and the tidal wave of tourists began to flow into the park making it almost unbearable. Finally, a break in the action and a recognizable window of opportunity appeared. I frantically tried to get a campsite in the Valley, but no such luck with this short of a notice. Plan-B was to try out a new motel a little ways outside the park along HWY 140. Success!

On my first day in the park I usually start my explorations by taking a recon lap around the Valley in order to reestablish my bearings, look for changes in the road and traffic flow (last time I was there part of the two way road on Northside Drive was converted to a one way road. This time there is a new roundabout near the Village.) The other purpose for my recon lap is to get a feel for the crowds. The week prior to departure the talking heads on TV were calling for unstable weather all week in the Yosemite area and I was hoping that would help thin out the crowds. If it did, I am thankful because it was C-R-O-W-D-E-D none the less. After 10AM all the popular spots were packed - unless there was serious active weather. Then, the only ones that were out and about were the crazy photographers (like me.)

But, this article is not about the annoying crowds. It's about how easy it is to get away from those same crowds. Here's the secret.

Go for a walk.

Find a safe and legal place to park and go for a walk. I do it all the time and even in the busiest of seasons I can find solitude in the Valley.

I made the photograph above on one of my walks, which I like to refer to as "my wanderings." It was mid-morning and all of the popular spots were packed like a box of raisins and I wanted nothing to do with that, so I found a good place to park and went for a wander. I spent nearly two hours in this area making photographs or simply sitting next to the river drinking coffee while watching and listening to the river. I never saw or heard another person the entire time that I was there, but I did see a deer :)

Next time you get a chance, go for a wander.

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