Just another day at Yosemite

What could I possibly say about Yosemite National Park that far more talented people haven’t already offered?

That’s how I feel thinking about Yosemite: speechless. Tiny. Powerless. A speck in the universe — one small person, a woman trying to hold up her chin in the shadows of something so much larger than myself. Of all the places we visited in California, all beautiful, it was Yosemite that made the biggest impression on me.

In the weeks since we returned home, I’ve found myself incessantly Googling the park and its waterfalls. I wrote a column about it for the paper. Yosemite is now my screensaver. My precious photos are stacked in folders so I can look at them often, remembering our all-too-brief time in the park. It flashed by in an instant.

Once we made it to Yosemite Valley, a perilous drive on our tour bus from Tioga Pass, Spencer and I practically ran from our group to see Yosemite Falls. I’m a wee bit obsessed with cataracts . . . and I guess that’s an understatement. I’m a waterfall chaser. If there’s rushing water to be found, I will seek it out — and photograph the heck out of it (see: my long-standing fascination with Niagara Falls). I’m most happy standing by the roar of falling water with spray dusting my shoulders.

So how did Yosemite Falls measure up? Very, very well. After walking an easy path up to the base of the lower falls, I could only stand in awe. It’s cliche, I know, but sometimes you can’t look up into the face of Mother Nature and think anything but, “Wow.”

I’m not outdoorsy. I hate bugs, can’t bear the thought of using the restroom outdoors, need a clean bed and pillow on which to rest at night. I don’t swim or hike or climb things. Generally speaking? I’m pretty lazy. I don’t like getting sweaty and am pretty annoying when I’m hot and thirsty.

But put a waterfall sighting within my grasp and I’ll be bumping tourists off paths through sheer determination alone.

Waterfalls aside, Yosemite is a truly magical place. Just driving around on a bus left me awestruck, staring out the windows at scenes like this:

I mean, really.

I’m going to be honest with you: since returning home to Maryland, I’ve thought about why I live on the East Coast. My answers are vast and varied, starting and ending — most importantly — with the fact that Washington, D.C., is my home. The only place I’ve ever lived. The only place I’ve ever known, and where my family and friends are. It’s where I work. Where I’ve started my career. Where I’ve built relationships. It’s where Spencer is.

But sometimes when we travel — taking in other vistas, other views — it’s easy to imagine yourself somewhere else, doing something else. Like building a camp and squatting illegally in a national park, say. Living off the land. Photographing streams. Scaling cliff faces and wandering the Sierra Nevada — a miniature (and female) John Muir.

Sometimes places call to you, grabbing your hand and refusing to let go.

I’ll always remember holding Spencer’s hand as we walked to the base of that waterfall. And my heavy, heavy heart as we turned to go.

15 thoughts on “Just another day at Yosemite

  1. I’m sitting here nodding my head like a bobble head or something. Yes, yes! Those waterfalls, and what resided at the bottom, was so much Godness, so much power, all in one place, that you are scared and awed all at the same time. I kept thinking “if I slip and fall in, I would die”. We hiked our ever-loving asses off up there. The only downside were the bathrooms, especially up there high (can’t remember the name of the mountain) where you have a view of everything. My daughter actually threw up it was so bad!


  2. Beautiful, beautiful photos. I’m so glad you got to experience it. I think you’ve captured something really wonderful here. Travelling allows you to imagine a different somewhere. I love that idea.


  3. These pictures are gorgeous! I’d love to see it in real life! I know exactly what you mean about being annoying when you’re hot and thirsty (I get the same way, pretty grumpy too)! But if I know there’s something I want to see you better believe I’m going to be throwin’ bows to get to it!


  4. The first time I saw it in real life, I cried with the majesty and grandeur. I live in the Bay Area and we do it as a day trip many times a year. I agree that it is the Most magnificent place in the country, bar none: Yellowstone, the Florida Keys, Niagara Falls, Badlands of SD… nowhere compares. Ok, the Olympic peninsula is close but doesn’t have that amazing change in elevation that Yosemite is famous for.

    Some guy just climbed El Capitan iin under three hours. Thirty-five hundred feet straight up-wow. The biggest single piece of granite yet discovered in our world. Impressive-you bet. i love Yosemite more than chocolate.


  5. I love Yosemite too! That’s where I got engaged! šŸ™‚
    And no I’m not an outdoorsy person either, but I made it my mission to climb to the top of Yosemite Falls – so worth it!


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