The farm I am currently staying on is only about an hour from Yosemite. It seems silly not to spend every second of free time there. This weekend I returned for a day trip, sans The Acorn, so I could see the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees.
The Grove is only a few minutes from the South Entrance. The parking lot is small and so they do not allow trailers. I left the Acorn back at the farm, and made my way up the mountain to the grove.
Before I left for the grove, I was discussing the park with a friend from home and asked about his experience. He was obviously enthralled with his experience, to the point where it is where he wants to die. I get that. My reaction was similar. I thought to myself, “I could really be tricked into marrying someone out here.” Which is dangerous, as there are quite a few foreigners wandering around.
For me, being at the big trees is probably as close to euphoria as I get. Everything is beautiful, and everyone is awestruck. It’s really neat to be in a group of complete strangers from all over the world all sharing the same thought: These are some BIG trees. There is just an overwhelming sense of peace and love, man, peace and love. It makes me willing to do anything and there can’t possibly be any negative consequences to anything because look at how damn big those trees are!
I realize that this is slightly ridiculous, and makes no sense. It’s also counter to my usual skeptical emotional and mental state, where EVERYTHING is a negative consequence, which is why you should never commit to anything too fully. National Parks turn me into a believer.
Scratch that, traveling in general turns me into a believer. I think that is why I opt to travel alone as much as I do. Believing by yourself is refreshing and regenerative. It allows you to think and fantasize about anything and everything with complete freedom. Believing with others brings in boundaries, and is a real buzzkill.
Because of that, these experiences are not something I seek to share in a real time. I don’t imagine my beliefs and inspirations are terribly interesting outside of my own head. It’s part of my struggle with blogging, in truth. It makes me terribly self-conscious to be awestruck in front of others because there’s a pressure to make my thoughts more profound than they actually are.
I might be a believer in Yosemite, but I am still overly engrossed with figuring out how people who climb the redwoods manage to get that rope over the first extremely high branch. This seems like a frivolous thing to be occupied with in all the majesty of nature. Also, there was a squirrel that had spots.
And that’s the real magic of traveling alone. There’s nothing really to be self-conscious about, and there’s a real lack of expectation. Sitting down on the sunny side of the mountain because the plants smell good for 20 minutes is totally allowable. Which I did, and it was awesome. I didn’t come to any realizations and my perspective on life didn’t gain any significance. Man, that is a comforting thought. It really takes the pressure off. (I tried to have a conversation with someone about social and cultural implications of the logging of redwoods to give my experience some weight. Man, nothing panned out. We ended up talking about giant rabbits, which is far more engaging.)
Hey, speaking of my perspective being meaningless, you should probably go to Yosemite. It’s super neat. One of my totally frivolous thoughts while I was there was getting so bemused by people trying to take photos. You really can’t take good photos of these trees, but that doesn’t stop anyone (including me) from trying. People try to get artsy and creative about how to do it, and leads to some pretty funny people watching.
And it doesn’t matter. Every tree is worth trying to take a picture of. The 1st tree is as impressive as the 5th as the 20th, and so on.
Even more than the stunning visuals, there is a certain holistic sensory experience that goes along with being in the park. That warm hillside really did smell good, almost like strongly brewed tea. The smells that are carried on warm breezes versus cold are pretty interesting. Touching the redwoods is like touching wet cardboard. The sound of a large branch break off over head, and quickly having to jump out of the way is also pretty memorable. Melting snow also created babbling brooks where just last week everything was completely dry and the threat of fire was “high”.
So, if you’d like to revel in your own insignificance and have totally silly thoughts and be OK with that, I recommend a trip up to Yosemite. Preferrably alone. But I’d like to see your selfies when you’re done.