The Valley of People

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Tunnel View – the best overlook in the park featuring El Cap, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall

Granite cliffs.

Towering water falls.

World-renowned vistas.

Yosemite.

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.

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It’s beautiful. It truly is.

BUT.

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.

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The famous Yosemite Falls

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.

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Admiring Half Dome and relishing a rare moment of alone-ness

 

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4 thoughts on “The Valley of People

  1. Your pic of the tunnel view is inspiring. Just beautiful. We’ve been there before but the pic makes me want to go back again which we hope to do. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Nice post Steph.
    The challenge of the NPS service, at least for the more popular parks, is how to handle to crowds and provide access so that all can enjoy their beauty. I have no answers. And yet for many of these places, it does not take long to get off the main path and find some level of solitude. In the case of Yosemite, a bit south of the east entrance is some wonderful backpacking in the Minarets where you can still have the solitude of a glacier fed lake.
    So I tend to struggle through the crowds to do the “must-sees”, then find my own path to feel the land and see the beauty.
    Enjoy
    Gene (and Donna, from Guadalupe Peak)

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  3. Hey! Let’s say you met someone while climbing Seneca last weekend, would you be interested in meeting up and climbing? Thanks again for cleaning the gear my buddy left behind :). I really enjoyed your blog and am very jealous I didn’t take something like that on before it was to late for me.

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