As fellow outdoor enthusiasts, we all know that one of the biggest considerations when planning a trip is what Mother Nature will throw at you. She can, at times, be peaceful and accommodating or she can rain fire and brimstone down from the heavens.
Every corner of the world is used to her vengeance in one form of another. Here in California we, due to our diverse geography, seem to get the whole egg basket of disasters. It’s not unheard of for California to experience wildfires, landslides, flooding, winter storms, severe freeze, tsunami waves and earthquakes. People still seem to think it’s a bitchen place to live.
This year, Mother Nature and our camping plans were or a direct collision course with one other. We planned a trip to Yosemite National Park over Eric’s birthday weekend in August. We booked a campsite at Yosemite Pines RV Resort in Groveland, CA and planned a great 4 day trip with motorcycling riding and site seeing.
As the trip neared, it seemed like the whole state of California started breaking out in fires. Not small fires, but huge, devastating wildfires that appeared to be unstoppable. One in particular, the Ferguson Fire, really had our attention since it was localized in the south, western corner of Yosemite.
We stalked the fire’s progress like tiger stalking it’s pray. One day the fire fighters had the upper hand, the next, the wind changed and the fire had advanced further into the park. It wasn’t until the week before our trip that Yosemite Valley, the heart of the national park was closed. Now, us being the eternal optimist that we are, decided to hold off on canceling the trip because the park was only going to be closed through Friday afternoon, the day we were driving up.
Our thought was, if we kept our reservation and stayed the course with our plan, the thousands of tourists that visit the park during the month of August would have cancelled their plans due to the uncertainty of the fire closures. According to the National Parks website, August is the busiest month of the year with over 600,000 visitors expected.
The day before we were set to leave the park closure was extended through the entire weekend. We kicked the idea around of sill going to Yosemite Pines RV Resort and doing something other than visiting Yosemite. When I called to RV resort they said that the smoke was so bad in their area that visiting at this time would be pointless if we were looking to do anything outdoors.
Their cancellation policy was very straightforward on the website so I knew I would be charged one night and the remainder would be refunded which was done within 24 hours. Eric and I decided to postpone our trip until next spring when the weather would be cooler and the crowds smaller. The following day, Yosemite Valley was closed, “Indefinitely”.
Now the irony in all of this is when you cancel a trip to avoid fire and bad air quality due to smoke only to have the fast moving Trabuco Canyon Fire in the Cleveland National Forest start about 40 miles, upwind form your house. Hell, we didn’t have drive 400 miles to experience fire, bad air due to smoke and being stuck in the house because it’s all right in our yard.