The Garden of Eden comes to mind when exploring Yosemite National Park. In late April and early May, when we were there, the waterfalls, streams and rivers are at full flow. The rushing water sounds like thunder, and rainbows in the mist fill the air. The bright green meadows, newly budded deciduous trees and flowering Pacific Dogwoods in the valley create a lush and sumptuous scene. Animal life is active; birds of prey soar high above, deer and bears are seen drinking from the streams, while the smaller forest creatures scurry about comfortable with their human guests.
Left to Right: Upper Yosemite Falls from Big Meadow, Vernal Falls, Big Meadow
People come to Yosemite not only to gawk and commune with its inspiring natural beauty but also to push themselves physically. Hiking and climbing is on most agendas. Except for walking around the valley, hiking here is strenuous. The “easier” hikes have more than 2000 feet of elevation gain, while some of the more challenging are nearly 5000 feet on steep rocky switchbacks. But the effort is rewarded with incomparable and ever changing views of one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The most popular day hikes lead to the top of waterfalls, usually more than one, and to a vantage point that will make you feel a high that only can be felt in this type of natural magnificence. For further inspiration and to marvel and what the human body can do, people gather to watch climbers from around the world risk everything to scale the imposing sheer granite cliffs of El Captain. The Rock wall is so massive that the climbers look no larger than ants from the valley floor. The folks, who have been watching, sometimes for hours, are more than happy to point the out climbers, give you a glance in their binoculars and possibly a little climbing education. In reality everyone is there to marvel at the spectacle of human will and overcoming fear.
Left to Right: Upper Yosemite Falls, Intermediate and Lower Falls, El Capitan
Yosemite is a magical place which inspired the National Park Movement and natural conservation in the United States. It is easy to understand why people fought tirelessly to save a place of such splendor from industry and wealthy land grabbers, for future generations to escape built urban environments and replenish their spirits and experience the grandeur of nature’s design. Being in Yosemite can have lasting affects and forever change a person’s idea of what is important. In this special place it is easy to be present and in the moment, not lost in repetitive junk thought. The tediousness of everyday human concerns and worries melt away and, at least for a moment, people can feel connected with something higher and a heightened state of awareness. Just being in a place like this, one comes to understand why so many mystics, sages and spiritual educators encourage people to get back to nature to find peace. Yosemite is a hard place to leave, but I am unsure it will ever leave you.
Left to Right: Bridal Veil Falls, Mirror Lake, Half Dome and the Valley