Yosemite Backpacking Adventures 4.16.14
By John P. DeGrazio
We recently returned from an early season Yosemite Backpack Trip for three days along the North Rim of Yosemite Valley with warm April temperatures, cool nights, and snow covered trails. Spending time in wilderness allows a person to give their body and mind a respite from the monotony of their daily routines to discover unending beauty all around them. Beauty is a necessity for life. When we encounter its allure, it moves us and transforms our beings. On this trip, I was able to share an incredible experience with our guests who fully appreciated two nights away from their professional lives where we could count on one hand the amount of people encountered on our journey across the North Rim.
Wilderness has become home for me. I feel privileged to spend several trips each year in the Yosemite backcountry where I can rediscover myself from time to time. Waking up in wilderness is akin to hitting the refresh button on life. It is hard to explain unless you have experienced it yourself, but I will try to in the following passage.
Climb a Little Higher
It’s morning and I’m tossing in my tent. Restlessness is often a symptom on the first night as I’m always eager to start a new day. I venture out at morning’s first light while my new friends enjoy a peaceful slumber. I stumble out of camp and gaze at a hillside. This camp was chosen because we had a slightly obscured view of the Clark Range. Like all trails, it is window to a grander vista. Climb a little higher.
I approach some rocks covered in snow and make my way through some brush. Huffing and panting, there’s only one way to go. Up. Many peaks come into view; Clark, Gray, Red, and Merced. My excitement rises. Climb a little higher.
The tip of Half Dome is revealed, and the Clark Range is in full view. Birds are singing their morning anthem, and everything is right in this world. Although the appearing sun warms my face, I stood frozen for several moments. Covered in goose bumps, I could no longer contain my excitement or emotions. Tears welled in my eyes and a broad smile covered my face. Uncontrollable sounds of exhilaration emanated from my body as a lone tear stained my cheek.
“This was it,” I mused as I recalled a scene from a recent Ken Burns film about Yosemite called “A Gathering of Spirit” that featured a friend of mine named Shelton Johnson. In my favorite part of the film, Shelton described a woman he witnessed having a transcendent moment in Yosemite Valley that seemed almost comical but was extremely powerful. Here I was having my own transcendent moment and did not even attempt to hide the outpouring of emotions until a catharsis was reached. It was about 7am, and I had already experienced a full day. Halfway through this epiphany, it was realized that there was no camera to record them moment. This only enhanced the experience.
Scrambling down the hill was a simple task and felt like my two feet never touched the ground. We went on to share many special journeys throughout the following day and a half on the tops of Eagle Peak, El Capitan, and Yosemite Point. At various times throughout the trip, we were all equally moved by the impact of our environment. I am often amazed yet hardly surprised with the effect Yosemite has on the mind and body of all its visitors.
I returned the following morning with camera in tow to capture the scenery, but the images are only superficial. They serve as reminders of these magical moments and memory triggers to the emotional releases invoked by these special places.
Yosemite is calling and your ‘transcendent Yosemite moment’ awaits. Climb a little higher.