A Week in Yosemite Valley
by Elaine Gorman
The sight and sound of Bridalveil Fall -- mist and thunder -- greeted us as
we entered Yosemite Valley. Roadways and paths were edged with blooming dogwood
trees. The cliffs on both sides of the valley were topped with glittering
snow, and dozens of ephemeral cascades bounced their way down the granite walls. Our
car was filled with camping gear, ice chest, and other necessities for a week of
life in Yosemite Valley and service at the LeConte Memorial Lodge.
Under the tutelage of curator Bonnie Gisel and her scottie dog Atwood, myself
and two volunteers from San Diego, John Fankhauser and Bob Fullerton, greeted
visitors, explained the exhibits, and helped set up for the evening programs.
had the opportunity to meet hundreds of visitors from all over the United
States and other countries. The LeConte Memorial Lodge (LML), originally
built in 1903 near Camp Curry, but located since 1919 just west of Camp Curry
Southside Drive, is a beautiful building with granite walls and a steep wooden
roof. The LML is named for Dr. Joseph LeConte, charter faculty member of
the University of Calif., Berkeley, who taught Geology and Natural History
He was also a friend of John Muir and charter member of the Sierra Club.
The LML served as the first visitor center in Yosemite, a meeting place for
members, and housed a Sierra Club library. These activities continue today,
the addition of a children’s corner where young visitors can play with
toys, create art, or read one of the many childrens’ books. There are
interactive displays on John Muir, Joseph LeConte, the Sierra Club, and climate
Besides being steeped in Sierra Club/Yosemite lore at the LML, we had time
explore Yosemite Valley. On our days off, we hiked to the top of Yosemite
Snow Creek’s confluence with Tenaya Creek, and to Vernal Falls. We
were able to
participate in Yosemite Association hikes, attend Lee Stetson’s portrayals
of Muir at
the Yosemite Valley theater, and go to evening ranger programs at our campground.
During our week of service, the evening programs at LML included presentations
on hiking Half Dome, Native American Storytelling, and the famed Yosemite
camping trip of John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt.
Spending time in the campground with Bonnie, John, and Bob, was also enjoyable.
Sitting in our campsite and ooking up at North Dome, Half Dome, Glacier
Cloud’s Rest, Royal Arches, and Yosemite Falls was awesome. Each night
serenaded by chorus frogs, and once by a coyote. During the day we had sightings
of deer, coyote, bear, and lots of birds, including a close inspection by
If you would like to be a volunteer at LeConte Memorial Lodge, contact Bonnie
Gisel at email@example.com. I recommend the month of May, when
crowds are diminished, the mosquitos haven’t hatched, and the campgrounds
quiet. I have already signed up for next year. Please visit LML the next
are in Yosemite Valley. To learn more about the LML, check out the website,
sierraclub.org/leconte. Donations are welcomed.
Yokuts Group Outings Chair
Reprinted by permission from The
Valley Habitat (PDF),
a joint publication of the Yokuts Group (in Mother Lode Chapter) of the Sierra
Club and the Stanislaus Audubon Society.
Return to Volunteering.
Information and Donations
For more information, during the summer contact Sierra Club LeConte Memorial Lodge
Curator, P.O. Box 755, Yosemite, CA 95389, 1-209-372-4542, e-mail:
During the winter, contact LeConte Lodge Committee Chair, Harold Wood, P.O. Box 3543,
Visalia, CA 93278; phone: (559) 697-3525; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tax deductible donations to support the new exhibits and renovation efforts of the
LeConte Memorial can be made to "Sierra Club Foundation," marked for the LeConte
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