One of my very favorite places in the world ever since we first met, Yosemite has spoken volumes to me. As I complete another special visit today I want to write about how nature/creation as influenced my spiritual journey and drawn me closer to the Holy One.
As a child I felt compelled to be outside whenever I could be and loved to climb trees, explore woods and travel somewhere on my bike. Sadly our family didn’t camp as I would loved that. But we did drive from California to Texas via the desert and once we went to the Grand Canyon. I wanted to explore that much more than I was allowed to, being only 5. And being caught outside in a thunderstorm once while visiting relatives in New Mexico was thrilling. There was so much more to this great outside that my wee soul and spirit needed to discover.
The first time I came to Yosemite was an adolescent with a group from school in the spring. I remember few details of the trip except that a few of us had some bikes and of course the Valley is a spectacular place to pedal around in, but the most beautiful surprise was that it started snowing! I had never been where it was actually snowing before this. It was a wondrous gift I never want to forget. The beauty, freshness, purity wonder and awe of it all made me so thirsty for whatever was behind all this.
I’ve been countless times since and I have even climbed Half Dome four times throughout my life. A few times, when I’ve only been here for a day with an overseas visitor or just passing through, I’ve felt sad to have to leave so soon. But this last week has been very special. A treasured friend who is a Park Ranger here invited me to stay for a week in her amazing cabin near a west gate.
I wanted to get back into hiking again and I haven’t been disappointed. My hope was to be able to hike for at least a few miles again and that has been more than satisfied.
The first day I went up to Sentinel Dome near Glacier Point with my friend. I knew we were going to hike near this, but I hadn’t expected to climb up a steep dome! For almost a year I’ve been in treatment for a serious health condition and had lost confidence in my body’s ability to do such things.
So there we were and I was huffing and puffing and worrying about how I was going to climb back down again! My friend is extremely fit and for her this was just a stroll in the Park in contrast to my apprehension. Once we climbed up a bit though with a hand held out for support, it wasn’t so difficult after all. We walked around the large dome enjoying the stunning views as you can see from the photos and had a little rest before going down.
Slowly I did it, with the help of that hand again if needed…but it wasn’t! It was almost easy! I thank God for His strength steadying my feet in my boots and making me able to keep good balance. It was the kind of shot in the arm that you do want! Sometimes I realize that God’s presence is coming to me through someone else. My confidence was restored and I enjoyed the rest of the paths and views especially when going downhill!
We were also blessed with a sighting of a Bobcat, somewhat rare since they are shy evidently. That whole hike was about 3.5 miles maybe. Not that long, but restorative and beautiful.
The next day was cool and a bit rainy. I had decided to go to Happy Isles, as it is still new to me, having often overlooked it in the past on the way to Vernal and Nevada Falls. Happy Isles is water water everywhere. Very refreshing. I walked there from Curry Village via a ‘Fen’ are which is also watery and wild. This walk was more of a casual meander than a big hike and I mainly wanted to enjoy looking at the water again.
I probably only hiked about 2 miles. As I got back to the car it rained quite a bit and was very cold so I was happy to keep it short. After that I did enjoy visiting the old Ahwanee Hotel where they had wonderful fires to warm up by.
The following day I had another spectacular hike, the longest in a over a year (6 miles). It started out with familiarity as I had hiked to Mirror Lake a year and a half ago and it wasn’t that far or that fun because it was on a paved path the whole way and it was raining lightly. It was good exercise, but I don’t recall enjoying it much.
But this time was so different. I found the Valley Loop trail running somewhat parallel to the paved bike path. This path curves around huge boulders, isn’t completely paved, has the forest closer and goes up and down with a little challenge to it while not taxing lungs like the higher up walk did. I found myself reveling in movement, in every tree, leaf, boulder, lichen and of course the views of Half Dome and the others from below.
I got quite carried away taking photos and I felt so good hiking swiftly along. I did bring my poles and they gave me a bit more confidence on the uneven places. When I started out, once again I had some apprehension about being strong enough for a longer distance and finding the way, but once I got to the bridges all doubts disappeared.
As I traversed I felt God’s joyful presence all around me inside and out. I delighted in His Creation and I think that He was also delighting in me! That walk was one of the most exhilarating of my life.
This trail was a lovely circular one which by passes the usual part of Mirror Lake and goes over a couple bridges over Tenaya Creek around and below Half Dome. The most spectacular part of the trail is just below Half Dome where the granite was so white, sparkling in the sun, that it was almost blinding. I stopped for a wee rest there and marveled at the view.
The rest of the hike was equally as delightful and I still exhilarate in the feeling of my boots on that trail. I decided then that I will be hiking again and again from now on as long as my boots and poles will take me.
I ended that walk back at the Ahwanee again where I had parked. Because of taking a bit of the long way around I came to it at the back which is actually the architect’s meant to be front entrance. There’s no place like home away from home!
So I am grateful for another exceptional visit to Yosemite where I feel at home in God’s creation more than anywhere else on Earth.