i’ve seen many pictures of yosemite and i thought that when we got there i would feel that i had already been, but when we drove through the tunnel and i saw the valley before me i was filled with the greatest awe. no picture does it justice.
we eat breakfast while looking up at el capitan. people come together, hug each other, laugh, sit in a circle and do yoga. i look at them from the window and grow nostalgic. they are a community. it’s only david and i for days, weeks at a time. there’s something sacred in shared solitude, but sometimes my heart aches for people, friends, family. just as i’m deep in longing gabe from the group comes and sits with us by the river and we talk as if we’d always been friends. we meet up with him and others later that evening and do yoga overlooking the valley.
i go on my first solo hike while david boulders. the hike is steep, but i feel like i’m floating. i have the internal dialogue i’ve had for so long now, but this time i decide that by the time i reach the top i’ll have it figured out. what am i going to do to bring some good to the world? how am i going to help others? i reach the top with answers, but i quickly decide they are selfish in their own way. i always make it about what i want, what i think is important. i tell myself i don’t need to figure it out right away, that just doing all the good i can today will be enough. one day at a time. i’m at glacier point and the peace and quiet i had hiking up is gone. i’m surrounded by people. turns out you can also drive to this place, but i always prefer the hike. the slow process of starting at the bottom, looking up at all that lays ahead, slowly entering a thick forest, the views along the way, the excitement as you see a clearing above the tree line and know that you are near, the rushing those last few feet knowing the greatest view awaits you, the satisfaction of making it… it’s the whole process that makes it worth it. like royal robbins says, how you get up there is everything.
david met edu while bouldering at camp 4. we park the rv next to his van outside the park at night and we eat dinner together and talk until we are all too tired. edu is always covered in chalk, the greatest dirtbag i know, a flying dreamer, a doer, an instant friend who’s come to stay. we meet jose and the next day hike together to the top of yosemite falls. that night we make a fire in jose’s campsite and david makes pizzas on the grill. i’m the happiest sitting by the fire with our new friends. here life is simple, life is good.
i’m one of the few that swims in the cold river. the water is freezing and when i get out my body is numb, but i love the fleeting feeling of awakening when you first dive in. we walk through the meadows and lay down surrounded by tall grass and wildflowers and butterflies. we look up at the highest waterfall. here we can pretend we are off in a remote place, far away from the cars and people. it all feels so perfect that i ask david if it’s a dream, but he assures me that this is better than a dream, it’s real life.
when edu leaves he gives david the strongest hug. we’ve only known him a few days, but i know there’s love there. it’s those connections with others that make life so beautiful. jose, david and i hike to the top of nevada and vernal falls. we camp there and hike up half dome the next day. we talk about so many important things that i feel we know jose better than people we’ve known years. on top of half dome, jose takes it upon himself to be the guardian and protector of the baby marmots who are surrounded by ravens. he imitates some sort of bird call and chases them away so the marmots will be safe from danger. it’s my favorite memory from half dome. i still think about it and laugh.
i go in search of internet to give signs of life and i’m confronted by tragedy. i stand in front of the newspapers in shock, feeling stupid and selfish for being so happy while the rest of the world is falling to pieces. it’s become so easy to block out all the problems and just live in this perfect little world we created. i go back to the meadows, hide in the tall grass, and think that if men spent more time in nature there could be no hate. i don’t know what to do or where to begin, so i just lie there and wish good things upon the world. we are all in this together.
david sent his mom a postcard and wrote on the back (in spanish) the feelings that i think summarize yosemite for both of us:
mom, these mountains make me dream. they make me dream of a world where our dreams become a reality. a world where we are not afraid of doing what we love and there’s no fear of failing. a world where ‘i can’t’ and ‘i shouldn’t’ are not part of our vocabulary; where children play, fall, get hurt, but get back up and play again. i love you mom, thank you for giving me the opportunity to dream.