Last week I snuck away for an overnight trip. The draw of Yosemite is like the pull of the moon on the tides of the ocean – ever present and undeniable. It’s a long journey to get there, and a much, much longer journey to explore its vast wilderness. For me that’s what has created the love affair – the time, the sweat, the fear, the reward of going miles by foot across Yosemite’s terrain, year after year.
If you’ve been … you know. The terrain is profoundly beautiful. Incredulous granite walls are the leftovers of glacial force and the valley among them is an oasis of life and activity. You are part of the wildlife here, co-existing with a healthy population of bears, bobcats, deer, marmots and even mountain lions — years ago Jay and his climbing partner were followed by one near Mount Clark. Yosemite is life on a grand scale, with the power to stop you in your tracks or inspire you to climb to new heights.
My memories of Yosemite span the park: the ginormous spring mosquitoes at our campsite in Tuolumne meadows, the moonlight hike in the snow to Yosemite Falls (too deep, too freaked out, didn’t make it to the top), the wonder of Hetch Hetchy, the ass-kicking 18 miles to Half Dome and back, the sunsets of Glacier Point, the big rainy picnic at Tenaya Lake, that day at the waterfall, and the most magical overnight ever on the top of Cloud’s Rest – sun setting in red and moon rising in full.
That magical overnight led to my wedding at the Ahwahnee Hotel, a grand lodge on the valley floor. Going back last week, I was reminded of how significant Yosemite has been in my life. It feels like home, like the backdrop of some very significant years and events in my life. A rock and a tree and a waterfall in Yosemite mark the places where I finally knew what I wanted and took the road less traveled to the rest of my life. That road will always lead back to my favorite place in the whole wide world.
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