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 Yosemite Conservancy Volunteer Experience as an Informational Assistant

By Paul Boyd-Batstone, August 2022

Man standing with safety vest and broad rimmed hat directs the public along a trail in nature.

Yosemite Conservancy volunteer Paul Boyd-Batstone on the Mist Trail during the summer of 2022.

As a Yosemite Conservancy Volunteer Informational Assistant, last August in Yosemite Valley, one of my favorite sites to work was PSAR (Preventative Search and Rescue) along the famed Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls.  Our tasks included informing hikers of the need for water and good footwear for the 700 granite step ascent, to watch out for hikers needing aide, and to provide information about the alternate John Muir Trail and wildlife along the way.

When I was a child, back in the 1960s, our annual family vacations were always to Yosemite.  I grew up loving this magnificent national park; however, the hike to Vernal Falls along the Mist Trail terrified me back then.  The 700 granite steps were wet and slippery and the steep cliffs frightened me.  The altitude gain from 4,000 feet to 6,000 feet was always a struggle for my young self.

Overtime, I conquered my childhood fears and that hike up to the falls became a must-do every time I visited Yosemite Valley.  As a volunteer along the trail, I’d see children who shared my same apprehensions.  So I’d bring my ukulele to play and sing for the children as they hiked by.  I tried to make up an original song for every child along the trail.

One day, a family from Austria came by the PSAR Mist Trail station.  Their young daughter, Emma, was with them, so I made up a song, something like this:

“Emma’s hiking on the trail

She’ll hike much faster than a snail.

She’ll never ever, ever stop

Until she’s reached the very top

Of Vernal Falls along the soaking wet Mist Trail.”

Emma acted shyly as I sang, but a large group of people gathered around to listen.  Then her parents said that Emma played ukulele too.  So I handed her my uke and she began to play, the song, “What a Wonderful World”.  Wonderfully, the entire group of spectators joined in singing and dancing along with Emma’s playing.

Needless to say, Emma danced her way to the top of Falls viewpoint and all the way back down to Happy Isles.  Emma made my day a happy one too as a Yosemite Conservancy Volunteer.


Learn more about the Yosemite Conservancy Informational Assistant experience.
Photo of Paul Boyd-Batstone on the Mist Trail by Erica Crawford.
Photo of Mist Trail by YC/K. Chappell