In our research we found varying information about the shuttle into Red’s Meadow/Devils Postpile area, where we would be entering and exiting the wilderness area. Word is that the road is closed to general traffic from 7 am to 7 pm, and this we found was generally true.
Our experience with the shuttle was another matter. According to the information we found, reconfirmed by the ranger when we picked up our permit, was that the shuttle starts running at 7 am, and runs continuously every 15-20 minutes. We didn’t feel that we needed to get the very first shuttle, but we were mindful of the potential for rain, and the distance and elevation gain of our first day, with our packs at their heaviest, and us at our least adjusted to altitude.
We changed into hiking clothes and boots, parked the car and headed towards the lodge building. The shuttle stop location was not immediately obvious from the parking lot, and we wandered around until we found what looked like the spot. The ticket window opens at 8 am, so we purchased our tickets ($7/person for a round trip ride), and went to stand at the stop, the first in the queue. There was a bean bag toss game out on the lawn: we challenged each other to a bean bag duel. This would amuse, and we could easily see the shuttle coming.
8:15 came and went. No shuttle. Then 8:30. Then 8:45. At about 8:55, a shuttle finally pulled up. By then, there was quite a line, including numerous backpackers who were probably just as anxious as us to get on the trail. Once on the shuttle, the driver half-heartedly apologized for our wait, that a driver had not shown up for work. So, it appears that balls were dropped to not fill in the missing driver. And no one associated with the shuttle service seemed to care much.
The road is narrow, steep and winding – with a breathtaking view.
When we got off the shuttle at Agnew Meadows (the first stop), we found that there were plenty of parking spaces there (contrary to the information from the ranger). Next time, we will get up early enough to drive ourselves in, and use the shuttle to get back to our car.