Towering water falls.
When I decided to take this crazy sojourn around the country, Yosemite National Park was a distant dream that stirred my rock climber’s imagination. Visions of Half Dome and El Cap danced in my head as I methodically planned out the route I would take on this fascinating road trip. Yosemite was on the top of the I-can’t-wait-to-see-it list.
It’s beautiful. It truly is.
It also strangely felt like Disneyland. Hotels, restaurants, tours, buses, camera-clad sightseers, and long lines. I completely understand why so many people would desire to come to this incredible paradise, but I also selfishly wished everything synthetically-made would disappear for a couple hours.
I wanted the entire park to myself.
I wanted to look at a waterfall without a small child bumping into me.
I wanted to hike to an overlook without having to a wait for a group of unmindful teenagers to move aside so I could pass.
I found bits and pieces of alone time while pedaling my rented bike through a less-frequented area or while strolling along the Valley Loop trail.
And this, friends, is the quandary facing many of the national parks. They are a preservation of a natural space, yet a place of recreation for others’ enjoyment. I am faced with a similar conundrum: I desire to see more Americans get outside and experience the beauty of the wild, yet I also seek to connect with nature on a personal, individual nature.
John Muir, a famous naturalist and advocate of the Sierra Nevada range, emphasizes the importance of finding solitude in the great outdoors: “Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.”