Days 12 & 13: Merced, Yosemite

21Jan08

Merced, apparently a city of 60,000, felt much smaller than that in the few hours I was there, and not in a good way. For the nights before and after my day trip to Yosemite, I was hosted by a rambunctuous 24-year-old Mexican-American who not only agreed to put me on the same night he was attending a wedding, but also scored me a free movie pass so I could put in the time during said ceremony. A folklore enthusiast, he was eager to make his case that Merced was an “evil” town, explaining the numerous gruesome murders in its past. If that’s true, then it’s an example which proves the banality of evil.

Half dome

Yosemite, the only non-urban national park that I’m able to reach through my pass (thanks to Amtrak-operated buses), was splendid. Similar in flavour to the national parks of the Canadian Rockies, it also felt much less developed – that is, had a much smaller town site, at least in the Valley, than Jasper or Banff. Much like my time in the Rockies, I didn’t have time to get much beyond the town and a quick day-hike, so this comparison may be entirely unfair to the backcountry, I’m not sure.

Even in the short time I was there, the park offered up some breathtaking views, and it’s easy to see how it inspired so many early environmentalists to take up the cause of conservation. Hopefully at some point I can return and do some actual camping.

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