We just received a press release announcing the opening of Tioga Road this weekend. Hooray! Despite the scorching temperatures we experienced this past week, summer has not yet arrived until the pass opens to the high country.
Since I began working for the Yosemite Association over fours years ago, we've enjoyed relatively early opening dates from mid-to-late May. I thought May 30 was extremely late and I kept lamenting my fate until I did a bit of research. How dare I complain! In 1998, Tuolumne aficionados had to wait until July 1st for access to the high country. However, since 1980, the pass has opened after May 31 only six times: 1980 (June 6), 1983 (June 29), 1993 (June 3), 1995 (June 30), 1997 (June 13) and 1998 (July 1). Only once in the past twenty-three years has it opened before May 1st; those visiting the park in 1988 were able to access the high country via car on April 29.
Incidentally, closing dates seem to be a little more predictable. Although opening dates have a range of 62 days since 1980, closing dates only vary by 36 days (November 5 to December 11). Summer is more fickle in her arrival.
I've been gazing longingly at the photographs in our new book, Yosemite Once Removed, Claude Fiddler's poem by camera tribute to Yosemite' backcountry. Soon I'll be able to slide down Mt. Dana's snowfields on my raingear or listen to the wind rush up the Kuna Crest. My first planned backpack is an early season jaunt to Mt. Watkins, where the delicate Lewisia has a brief flowering season after the snow melt. Stay tuned for this summer's backcountry adventures!