2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – November/December 2005

Yosemite @ $7.38 An Hour: Seasonal Work in the National Parks

Our scribe-turned-pizzaman labors in the land of granite and pulls back the curtain on the seasonal-employment fantasy.

by: Larry Gallagher

And the rest of us working stiffs? I spend my week jerked back and forth by the park's relentless contrasts. Riding my bike, I pass a traffic jam of Winnebagos on my right, and to my left get a clear shot of a heavenly beam of light bouncing off Half Dome. I spend the morning in rubber gloves, picking trash out of some disgusting bin, then follow it with a nap beside the Merced River's luminescent khaki glow.

This tension between heartbreaking beauty and heartrending ugliness is woven inextricably into the park's history. Pick up any book on the subject, and you won't get far in before it reveals itself: The Ahwaneechees who weren't killed or driven out of their homeland were dragged off to languish on some Central Valley reservation, long before the interlopers marred the landscape in the ways we know today.

Still, the valley's enduring magic is that you can view it through this lens and still be stirred by its beauty. Before work one morning I go to the visitor center and plan a hike for my day off. The loop starts up the Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point, then circles down on the Panoramic and John Muir Trails--14-plus miles, all told.

It's as rewarding as any I've done. So over-trodden, so over-photographed, and still so stunning. The first trail is even paved, and has been for the better part of a century, and yet none of this can touch the ragged beauty of the place. If you've hiked here, or on any epic trail for that matter, you can supply your own details. Make sure you get the lighting right, a thousand different angles on a half-dozen waterfalls, a little bit of rain for drama, an endorphin-filled afternoon, souvenir blisters, and then feet kicked up on a bear box in the moonlight, beer bottle in hand.

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -


Star Star Star Star Star
Jan 12, 2014

Thanks for sharing your experience.I enjoyed it. :)


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

What Should I Do About A Table And Chairs?
Posted On: Aug 30, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer
Trailhead Register
Who's Working this weekend...?
Posted On: Aug 30, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer

View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions