Back to the Vacation Drawing Board

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Wednesday was a no good, very bad day in the Jacobs’ household. Our High Sierra Camp loop trip that I’ve been dreaming about and obsessing over for about a year is kaput 😥


Arrive home, check email on phone while walking upstairs to release the hounds and change out of my pretty red dress. Find the following devastating email:

Dear High Sierra Guest:

Unfortunately we have received official word due to snow levels being at record high levels, based on the latest snow pack readings (178% of normal), and a cool April and May the High Sierra Camps including Tuolumne and White Wolf will be delayed three weeks at this time. The tentative opening dates are as follows: Glen Aulin 7/8; May Lake 7/15; Merced, Vogelsang 7/22, 23; and Sunrise 7/29. (We were scheduled to stay at Vogelsang on July 20th, Merced the 21st/22nd, and Sunrise on the 23rd)

Your current reservation has dates within that period. We have tentatively reserved four nights at Tuolumne Meadows and one night at Vogelsang on 7/23. You can take all or part of this itinerary or if you choose to cancel all monies will be refunded.



Call Jason (who is en r0ute home) while crumpled on the floor, in the hall, in a puddle of tears.


Write the first of many pity party posts on Twitter and Facebook.


Move crying fit to bedroom once Jason gets home.


Shift into Plan B mode. Think of options, including other alternatives in Yosemite and scrapping Yosemite altogether for another national park (like Mount Rainier in Washington or Glacier in Montana). Discover that there is NO availability ANYWHERE.


Move from tears to rage over the situation. Decide to appease my anger with buffalo wings (keeping in mind that, other than fish, I haven’t eaten any meat in 2 1/2 weeks).


Binge on Topper’s buffalo wings while watching Extreme Couponing. Attempt to dull my pain in food and reality TV.


Start crying again. Head upstairs only to face my beautiful blue backpack being stored in my room in anticipation of the trip. Quickly remove pack from room (along with Jason’s) to avoid more tears. Decide it’s time to call it a night and hope to wake up to a better day.

I must say, when I woke up Thursday morning, I was much more optimistic. I started to contemplate the options we really do have and came up with two potential plans of action.

  1. Take what they’re giving us, minus the Vogelsang component. Honestly, if I’m going to do the High Sierra Camps, I’m really going to do it right. I don’t just want to hike out to one camp, stay the night, and turn around to go back. We’ll try another year (probably five years down the road after the sting of this incident has passed, selecting ALL August dates 🙂 ).
  2. Rework the trip entirely to spend some time in Yosemite but to travel to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Now that we have a clean slate, might as well check another couple parks off the list. We could spend a couple of day in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite then make the drive south to visit Kings Canyon for a day and Sequoia for a day. Since we should be receiving a decent chunk of change back from our canceled trip, we can hit up San Francisco in style for our last day/night.

After talking things over with Jason, we’re strongly leaning towards option B. While we love Yosemite and the high country, we don’t feel like spending the entire time just in Tuolumne. We figure we can make the drive out the eastern edge of the park to visit Mono Lake. We also hope to hike Lembert Dome. I would anticipate the drive between Yosemite and Kings Canyon/Sequoia to be pretty incredible in and of itself. Plus, it would be nice to make some progress on our goal to visit all of the national parks, something that visiting Yosemite exclusively two years in a row was already derailing.

The biggest downside to this whole situation is that I will miss out on what I anticipated to be a great way to test out backpacking. Not only would the locations have been amazing, the High Sierra Camps would have been the perfect beginners opportunity. Now, I’m back to the drawing board for trying my hands at something that’s way beyond my comfort zone.

So that is the last couple of days in a nutshell. We’re currently waiting for a callback from Delaware North Companies, the organization who oversees all Yosemite lodging, which might take 5-7 days 😯 (completely unacceptable from our point of view, but whatever). Then, we’ll go from there. While this trip will not be what I hoped for or wanted it to be, we will still make the most of our time out West and enjoy our national parks.


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4 thoughts on “Back to the Vacation Drawing Board

  1. iris

    Dude. This sucks.

    I recall a post where you were checking out some trail/shelters for a potential future backpacking trip? Why not do that? It’s no Yosemite (nor is it meant to replace any of your plan B options described), but you can be out and trying backpacking before you would otherwise.

    My first/only backpacking trip was a 3 night / 2 day drip, with 8 miles on the two full days (ie, 16 miles total). All this in a park only ~1 hour from home. I was totally out of shape, my bf and I were total newbies, and no one died.

    The only real specialized equipment you need for backpacking aside from the backpacks & sleeping bags is a water filter or the cheaper option, chemical tablet water treatment + a bandanna (first aid kit & headlamp would be smart for safety). You have the shelters already provided, so no lightweight tent necessary. Longer trips you might want a hiking stove, otherwise you’ll get sick of cold food 😉

    ‘Seems like a perfect beginners’ opportunity to me 😉

    1. Laura Post author

      I’m thinking about the Ice Age Trail shelter that I already wrote about. The other options I’m contemplating are Rock Island State Park off the Door County Peninsula of Wisconsin ( or the non-island Newport State Park ( Jason and I have already discussed these for possible first solo trips. And we could probably spring for a tent with the savings we’ll have from this trip.

      Definitely a downer to see the trip I’ve been so eagerly awaiting disappear in a moment. But we’ll still make the most of it and have a great time 🙂

  2. Ingunn

    Ugh, that sucks! I thought the snow levels were high when I went to the Sierras last June, but this year it’s just insane (here in the Cascades too)!

    I think you should get hold of a tent and just go for it. By late July the trails should definitely be melted out, even with this crazy snow. Maybe you could do a shorter trip in Yosemite (since you would be carrying more weight)? I’ve heard Cathedral Lakes is supposed to be amazing.

    If you have trouble getting backpacking permits since the national park is so popular, there’s lots of other gorgeous places to go outside of the park from places like Mammoth and Bishop. Then you could go and relax at Mono Lake afterwards and drive the beautiful road across Tioga Pass.

  3. Chris

    Aw, Sorry to hear that – tho if you’re still going to Yosemite, I’d definitely check out the last-minute HSC openings (altho this year that may be not as easy as most years). Was just checking your blog since I just found I’m backpacking one night just past Glen Aulin on July 20 (doing a “Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne” trip)- backpacking’s more flexible than doing the HSC, but definitely not as cushy. The AMC huts in the White Mtns in NH are another place you can do a trip similar to the HSCs.


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