Sunday, September 14, 2008

Volunteering in Yosemite

On a day off, we hiked to May Lake and then just hung around...

Olmstead Point is one of the places we work every week

This is the view we have during our commute to work at Parson's Lodge.
Adrienne, Pat, Leslie and Kent, and Brad -- The team

Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, CA -- I confess: life is not hard working here in Yosemite National Park as a volunteer.
After years of thinking about it, Pat and I are currently serving a five-week stint as volunteers for the Yosemite Association, a non-profit organization we have supported and belonged to for more than 25 years.
This year we decided to put our bodies to work, and we signed up for five weeks living and working in the Tuolumne Meadows region of the park.
This is one of the most beautiful places on earth, certainly one of the top ten scenic areas in America, so the setting is pretty darned nice.
We live in the campground, 8,600 feet above sea level, in among the lodge pole pine trees, in a section reserved primarily for volunteers like us.
There are five of us who work together, helping and supplementing the work done by YA employees and park service rangers and volunteers. We are all retired or semi-retired, though everyone is (and acts) younger than I am.
We work at four different sites: at the visitor center providing directions to travelers or suggestions for hikes or helping them find a place to stay; at Olmstead Point,one of the great vista points in the park, where we take a lot of pictures of families and couples; Parsons Lodges, the original Sierra Club high Sierra lodge, where we make people welcome, offer shelter if the weather gets bad, and chat with hikers; and we help people who sign up for the Association's field trips (hikes, photo trips, glacier measuring) get settled in. Oh and we do what we call "bear patrol." We do NOT chase bears we try to educate people how to store food and avoid having bear problems. A fed bear is a dead bear, and we want to keep them around.
Our work weeks are shorter than those when we made a living, so we have lots of time to hike to beautiful places.
Basically, we try to be hosts to visitors, help them find their way around, and when we have a chance we encourage them to consider membership in the Association.
Nobody does a hard sell, as Yosemite sells itself and we get lots of support.
The park service rangers and employees have all treated up like welcomed partners, and we have met some wonderful and fascinating people.
You get the idea.
We like it a lot.
The first four weeks have flown by, and we are into the final seven days. It's gonna be hard to leave.

After a hard day's work, this is the drive we make to get a cheeseburger at the Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining.

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