This past week I visited Yosemite for my third time, although it feels like more than that. It’s a backpackers dream world.
The endless granite walls. The rivers. The waterfalls. The magnitude and magnificence.
And of course, the crowds. No, not even crowds. Swarms. Herds. Of people.
It’s not that I don’t like people, I love humans. But tourists are a different breed.
I spent four days trekking the wilderness, away from tourists. I only ran into happy hikers and campers also on a journey through the wilderness. Everyone smiled and asked how we were, asked where we were going. They all seemed genuinely interested and happy for our journey. And I felt the same warmness, appreciation and support for these strangers as well.
There is a deep connection between people who are on a journey similar to your own. Every time I travel, I always feel it. These people I meet are so amazing. They were like new friends I would only see that one time.
Some people we did run into later on our four day hike and we laughed and talked some more. Shared stories of our experience in Yosemite. Then we would go our separate ways once more.
The days were hot and grew hotter as we descended thousands of feet to the valley floor.
When we got tired of hiking we jumped in the river parallel to our trail. We stripped down and cooled our muscles down. We ate jerky and dried fruits. And then when we needed we pumped clean water into our camel packs. This was simple living. This was free. And it was beautiful.
Our last day’s hike was down into Yosemite Valley, the mecca of the national park. Where everyone congregated to stare at the waterfalls coming down the mile high granite cliffs. El Capitan welcomes the newcomers and Half Dome bids them farewell.
We got down at 10 in the morning and immediately felt the claustrophobia. We couldn’t get on a bus for half an hour because no one would make room for us and our packs. We couldn’t get help from the workers about a shuttle bus schedules so we could get back to our car 60 miles away. No one smiled at us anymore. No one said “Happy Trails” anymore. All we wanted was to escape.
We finally got a bus to the edge of the park and hitchhiked the 60 miles. We met two great people who picked us up. Both their own character, different from each other, different from me and different from my boyfriend. But we all had one thing in common.
Yosemite is a treasure in the world, tainted by crowds, people who trash the place and don’t respect nature.
I had this amazing experience hiking from one end of the park to the other, constantly surrounded by the beautiful wilderness. And then to be thrown into a whirlwind of people shuffling past to get ice cream and lattes, throwing plastic on the ground, trying to feed wildlife, blocking the trails to take selfies — I began to feel judgmental and angry.
Wasn’t this time outdoors supposed to make me feel centered and part of this world more? But, I only felt more detached than ever.
Yosemite is glorious and I could feel grateful for that the rest of my life, easily. But the human part of nature isn’t always as easy to appreciate.
Maybe I’m not supposed to talk about all that because I sound like a horrible person.
I wish all I needed was the depth of nature to consult my conscience, but I need to learn to find peace and love even in the most uncomfortable and annoying situations.
This is part of the Daily Prompt today on Depth