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The recent headlines over the hantavirus outbreak at Yosemite National Park in California keep getting grimmer. On Thursday, news broke of the third fatality from the rare, rodent-borne illness, which has been linked to some tent cabins at the park’s popular Curry Village.
In addition, park officials also confirmed that the eighth confirmed case of hantavirus linked to the park in recent weeks, which was a mild case and did not require hospitalization, likely occurred not in Curry Village but at one of the park’s high country camps. As a result, Yosemite officials are notifying about 12,000 additional people who stayed in the park’s High Sierra camps this summer, said Kari Cobb, public affairs officer for Yosemite National Park.
So far, park officials have sent more than 3,000 e-mails and letters to people who reserved cabins in Curry Village over the summer and have posted and shared links to FAQs and safety tips about the virus. In addition, various health agencies working on the outbreak, including the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have taken to Twitter and other social media to help get the word out about the outbreak. Meanwhile, all 91 of the “signature” cabin tents at Curry Village, where the majority of infections are believed to have occurred due to a design flaw in the tents that allowed mice inside, are closed indefinitely, Cobb said.
Still, even with all the efforts dedicated to controlling the outbreak, the situation also underscores an important reminder for any travelers who enjoy the wilderness: that as safe and regulated as national parks are, nature always has the upper hand. Read more
Then consider a unique Mother’s Day gift that’s sure to rock her world: the Girls on Granite weekend climbing program at Yosemite National Park. This women’s-only offering, in its fourth season, provides participants with a morning of personal instruction from experienced female guides, training and climbing, as well as shared accommodations with other class participants, for just $214 per person.
The program is available for three different skill levels – beginner, intermediate and advanced – with the beginner class (no climbing experience necessary) taking place on June 15-17. The cost includes shared accommodations in a heated tent cabin in Curry Village, and gear is also provided if you need it. Read more
If summiting Half Dome is on your adventure travel bucket list, but you’ve been thwarted by the permit system enacted in 2010 – and, more specifically, the legions of scalpers that hijacked the works last season – there’s hope for the year ahead.
A new lottery system was recently announced to obtain permits for hiking the iconic granite formation in Yosemite National Park. Park officials hope the lottery system will curb the frustrating problem of people grabbing large numbers of Half Dome permits and then jacking up the minimal price by fourfold or more.
Last year, a record number of tourists – 4,047,880 to be exact – visited Yosemite National Park in California. But as they come and go, there’s a lucky community who call this 747,956-acre outdoor paradise home. In the high season, approximately 3,000 employees of the National Park Service and Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts (or DNC), which is the contracted concessionaire for the park, live on park grounds in various housing complexes. Among them is Lisa Cesaro, public relations manager for DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite. Cesaro, a transplant from Southern California who has lived in Yosemite Valley for a little more than a year, shares what it’s like to be a resident of a place so cherished by outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, as well as some top travel tips for an optimized visit. Read more
I like camping as much as the next outdoor enthusiast, but sometimes I’m looking for something more noteworthy than hiking by day and a wienie roast at night. That’s why these great fall weekend getaways and festivals caught my eye: They’re all about enjoying the great outdoors, but bring a little something extra to the mix, like great food, music and adult beverages, to boot. Read more
Attention, hikers, mountain bikers, and nature lovers: Mark your calendars for September 24, National Public Lands Day. You’ll be joining more than 170,000 volunteers doing upkeep and improvements at more than 2,000 sites across the country – think of it as physical goodwill for all those trails you’ve slogged up in your hiking boots or bombed down on your mountain bike.
It’s as simple as locating a volunteer project in your area and signing up. If you want to make a mini volunteer-vacation out of it, stay the night (or the whole weekend) in a campground or at an on-site lodge (though expect popular spots like Yosemite National Park to fill up early). For your time, you’ll get a voucher to return for free.
John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, first stumbled upon the expansive, spectacular wilderness of California’s Yosemite high country in the summer of 1869. For the environmental pioneer, it was a place as close to heaven as he could imagine: “Here I could stay tethered forever with just bread and water.”
Muir chronicled his sheepherding and trailblazing adventures in My First Summer in the Sierra, initially published in 1911. This March, Houghton Mifflin released the 100th anniversary edition of the book ($30), featuring Muir’s original text, photographs of his journal entries and sketches, and new Yosemite photos by Scot Miller.
With many ski resorts dumped with snow after the recent barrage of blizzards, the slopes are certainly calling. But, if you’re like me, so are the credit card bills, which means it will be a while before I can indulge in some schussing sans guilt.
Good timing, then, on several free outdoorsy offerings sure to get you outside and into high gear, burning off some of that holiday pudge (but not money) in the process. Another bonus? They take place across the country, so no matter where you are, you won’t have to travel too far to take advantage.
The first: This Saturday, January 8, is the 16th annual Winter Trails Day, which aims to get cross-country skiing and snowshoeing newbies out on – you guessed it – the trails. Nearly 100 resorts and Nordic centers in 21 states are participating in the event (photo above courtesy of RDB Events), which last year attracted about 11,000 visitors, according to event spokesperson Reese Brown. It’s also a great way for downhill junkies to get a taste of a new means of moving across the snow.
With no long lines, parking hassles, or expensive lift tickets involved, it’s no wonder snowshoeing has become the fastest-growing winter sport. This centuries-old mode of transport – according to some figures, the first snowshoes were used by migrating cultures around 3,000 or 4000 B.C. – has enjoyed an unprecedented surge as of late, with millions of enthusiasts strapping on their shoes every year.
Unlike its downhill cousins, snowshoeing is relatively cheap (you’ll pay less for your own pair of shoes than two lift tickets) and accessible (anybody with an adventurous spirit can do it) – you simply strap on your shoes and go. Plus, you’ll still get the exhilaration of communing with nature and amazing views, not to mention a killer workout.
Snowshoeing is an ideal option for anybody who’s ready for a change from the slopes (or the sliding motion of cross-country skiing). In addition, because you only need about a foot of snow, you can do it just about anywhere there’s white stuff (though make sure to follow trail etiquette). Here, a few ideal destinations where you can get trekking. Read more
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