Back from Yosemite

February 22

It’s been awhile, Les. A whole two weeks. I’m sorry about that. Plenty has happened, plenty has been on my mind, and sometimes my INFP self just doesn’t feel like sharing. Part of that’s due to dating someone recently. Attraction doesn’t come easily to me, and I struggle to let myself relax and enjoy it without second guessing/fighting everything. But also, and probably more importantly, I’m  wondering what I’m doing with my life postgraduation. I’ve got an abundance of time and don’t know where to direct myself these days. After years of intense drive and ambition, I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that I may not be cut out for the kind of work I was preparing for. No one else has led me to believe this—just serious, honest personal reflections on my own sensitivities. Recognizing that I’m being opaque tonight, I’ll write more about career stuff in the future.

On a way brighter note, guess what?! My sister Elizabeth and I took a spontaneous (idea hatched 3 weeks ago) trip to Yosemite last week. She picked me up from work Wednesday night and we hit the road, stopping at the first rest stop in California that night after making our way through a blizzard just south of Ashland, then continuing on to the park the next morning. Because we had only two nights in the park (a mere 47 hours!), we made it our mission to get up early both mornings. By 5:40 we were up, by 7 we were on a trail.

Yosemite Highlights:

-On Thursday night, we noticed a rainbow halo around the moon! I’d noticed a similar ring once or twice before, but not rainbow! EarthSky explains what causes these halos.

-WE SAW A BOBCAT. While walking back from Mirror Lake and briefly checking out the backpacker’s campground, a bobcat nonchalantly walked over the ridge towards us before continuing onward. I really have no words to express my level of excitement, but I can tell you that about 10 minutes later when we were on a bridge admiring the blinding sunlit water and Half Dome, I lay down in the road and kicked my feet in the air I was so happy. IMG_3424.jpg-We hiked Yosemite Falls trail and FOLLOWED COUGAR TRACKS for a mile. No, they didn’t seem ultra fresh. Yes, we wondered how safe we were and took a video for our family & friends just in case we didn’t survive the hike. Yes, I was stoked. Yes, I spent considerable time on the 12+ drive home google searching tracks to see if we were correct about the cougar diagnosis. On the way down, I hugged an incense-cedar that had been scratched.

-I hiked that 2700 elevation change/3.5 mile icy trail in running shoes with no traction. Hands-down one of the most foolish decisions of my life—a decision I made rather reluctantly but eagerly (contradictory feelings, I know) because I wanted to be springy on the trail and my beautiful, reliable Danner boots are heavy trail monsters. When the trail became icy just below the upper falls (which started out as water then turned into snow/ice at the bottom!), I realized that I was an idiot—and that Elizabeth was not wearing running shoes like me, but rather trail shoes. With traction. I scoured my bag for anything I could add to my shoes (considered my work lanyard and even Apple headphones) but came up empty-handed. I cursed my poor decision-making and fretted about maybe needing to turn around. Fortunately, that first stairwell was the worst of it. We continued to the top although I avoided going anywhere close to the edge or down the rock steps to the creek. With the help of a stick, I made it down the mountain, falling only 8 times on my butt. Nearly everyone we encountered around the top had hiking boots &/or traction devices such as Yaktrax. I stoically clutched my stick and attempted to stand upright by the side of the trail as they passed. I was determined to let nobody (besides my sister) see me fall and mostly succeeded.

I’ll never knowingly begin a comparable hike in such poor footwear again but that was also the best hike of my life. IMG_3657.jpgUpper Yosemite Falls. Check out that footwear. I was worrying much of the time about the hike down—the descent would be undoubtedly more challenging. It was. I fell several times, and caught myself dozens more, sometimes spinning around my staked stick, but laughter was always present.

What else is there to say tonight, Les? I’m confused about a lot of things, but that’s okay. I just feel so darn grateful to love—that unseen cougar, that bobcat, my partner-in-crime sister, the outdoors, my family, my friends, former classmates and coworkers, the seasons, and more—and be loved, and to be alive. This weekend I was actively excited to live. And the thing is, as amazing as this weekend was, I realized that my life has been so rich and full I cannot quickly pick out other top weekends because I regularly appreciate the moment. I generally don’t catalog experiences, but I’ve been blessed with many wonderful opportunities and experiences. I am lucky, Les.