Thursday, June 12, 2008
Yosemite Part I: Yosemite Falls
This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to Yosemite with friends. Unbelievable. I’ve done very little camping in my life. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, but I’ve never LOVED it. And I realized why over the course of this trip. It’s because the only camping I’ve ever really done has been in Texas and Oklahoma. Spending a week in a cabin or tent with high Texas-summer temperatures, and humidity to match, is not particularly enjoyable under any circumstances, but would at least be bearable if the landscape were interesting enough to make up for the sauna-minus-the-spa conditions. But sadly, the campsites I’ve seen in my day certainly do nothing to invoke any sort of Whitman-esque love of nature.
Now, don’t misunderstand. I have a rarely-shared appreciation for aspects of the Texas landscape. I love confronting the openness of the western portion of the state as I make the drive from Dallas to Amarillo. It fills me with a profound sense of loneliness that somehow makes me feel totally at ease and completely anxious all at the same time. That perfectly blue sky juxtaposed against the endless stretch of prairie with the occasional windmill...or, even better—oil well...makes my heart ache. In a good way. While I love it, I prefer viewing it from my car window with the A/C cranking. I’ve heard there are other areas of the state that offer spectacular views that serve as wonderful backdrops for scenery-hungry campers. But it’s no wonder I haven’t ever gotten truly excited about camping considering my girls camp leaders took us to an open field for our 4th-year hike.
But I digress. My more recent trip to the great outdoors summoned an appreciation for nature which I have not previously realized. Chad, I now understand why you take that annual backpacking trip. (And I definitely understand why you don’t take it in Texas.) Clearly John had already discovered the secret. See? Hiking brings out the dancer in him. Who knew?
Yosemite was breathtaking. I was awestruck. The sheer granite cliffs rising straight out of the ground have an incredible and indescribable presence – a silent and overwhelming force. The weather was phenomenal. Not too warm, with nice breezes during the day. And chilly enough at night to really enjoy hanging out by the fire.
We climbed to the top of Yosemite Falls the first day we were there – a challenging hike for an amateur like me (pretty sure I wouldn’t have made it at all if it hadn’t been for my year-long love/hate relationship with the Santa Monica stairs), but so worth it.
The most significant take-away of the weekend: learning how spiritual communing with nature actually is. I’m no tree hugger, but I am obliged to say that I saw God in Yosemite. Alma was really on to something: “All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it.” I’ll second that. And I would even go so far as to make a slight adjustment to his statement. Going forward, I will read this passage thusly: “All things denote there is a God; especially the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it.”