Last weekend Heather and I took a weekend to visit one of our favorite places on earth, Yosemite. It’s a place we have a special connection to. We’ve camped here for many years, first just before we were married, and find it’s forests, trails and air to be soul regenerating. In the summer we like to camp in the high country in Tuolumne Meadows and in a rare year, we also like Yosemite valley in winter.
Winter here in the valley is just magical. Cold and fresh with nature asleep beneath the snow. The summer crowds are gone and you can be alone in this place. In the Ahwahnee Hotel the fireplaces are roaring and waiting for the hikers to return for afternoon tea. From the window of our room, Upper Yosemite Falls cascades through the mists moving along the face of the canyon.
Breathe in and feel the cares of the world melt away. Breathe in and fill your soul with energy and new life.
I first came to the valley when I was about five. My mother brought our family here to camp. We kids climbed over boulders, waded in the water, and roasted marshmallows before crawling into our sleeping bags.
I remember standing in the meadows and seeing the Fire Falls being pushed off Glacier Point. I recall it was late and I was anxious to get our campfire started because Mother had bought us a fresh bag of marshmallows from the camp store, but she said I needed to see the fire fall because this might be the last year they do it. She told me that it was important to remember.
Now, nearly 50 years later, I am among the few who left alive who’ve see that fire kindled on Glacier Point and promptly at 9:00 pm pushed over the side into a spectacular display of fire and light. Even standing in the snow covered meadow, my eyes turn towards Camp Curry and follow the lines of the granite cliffs up to the sky, hoping to see that magic from my childhood.
This year the snow and ice was too deep, too fragile to allow us to get to the base of Yosemite falls and those familiar rocks my brothers and I climbed over and slid down as our patient mother watched. This year the trail was covered in ice, the roar of the falls muted.
This year, Heather and I mingle with the Japanese tourists. They’ve been bused in for the day and aren’t dressed for the weather. They take selfies, marvel at the falls and later in the food court laugh about American food and the novelty of a fork.
I simply breath in the spirit of the place and let my soul fill with new life, restoring air, and healing wind.
In time all things end and too soon I call the desk to have the bellhop collect our bags as we prepare for the drive back to the world. The young man keeps up a pleasant and well rehearsed conversation as we walk to the car, “Where are you from?”, “Did you enjoy your stay?”
And as the last bag is loaded he asks, “Do you know how to get to the highway?”
Oh son, let me tell you what I know of this place.
Till next week,