Yosemite National Park, California, United States
Thursday, July 5, 2012
So, we've now checked off Yosemite from the To Travel To family list. It is beautiful and was a great trip. You do stand in the valley and marvel at the magnitude of the surroundings...and the amount of people who move enmasse through there...and the United Nations gathering around the Yosemite shot glass aisle at the Yosemite Valley General Store.
We had the wonderful opportunity to go with a group from our church to "work" as volunteers in exchange for a group site in the valley. What a great way to go. Our camp area was removed from the close quarters of the "regular" camp folk and much quieter. Totally the way to go. Our work ended up being 1 hour of cleaning ash out of the fire pits in a loop of the campground. We did get to visit with some campers as we worked our way along through their sites, which really was the fun part.
People are in a nice space when they are camping. There is time to take interest in the lives of others that you don't know and will never see again. It's weird though. You see people who wouldn't be caught dead walking down their driveway in the morning without hair and makeup done...but when they camp they freely move about in clear view in their pajamas... They come out of public showers with their hair up in a towel and men, without their shirts on....like all of a sudden we're in some big, dirty family reunion and all just accept each other as is. It's nice and earthy...and dirty!
Don't get me wrong...the dirty part doesn't bother me. I do, however, have a bit of difficulty with the smelly part. The portable potty situation was unbearable... like burning your eyes unbearable.
NPS, please take note. When we rejoiced in the Mobile gas station bathroom it really drove the point home.
Back to the good... Friday afternoon, after our grueling 1 hour of "work" we all participated a Grand Flotilla down the Merced river. Our family had drummed up some ideas for how we could make a creative, fast water craft that would take us to a first place finish and decided that a soft top surf board and four cheap inflatable rings lashed together would work best. The two younger kids though decided that they really just wanted to go with their friends and took off ahead of the pack. Chum was with her friend on a inflatable camping mattress which was like a cruise ship. Steve told me he really didn't want to go so I grabbed two rings out of the truck and quickly duct taped them together into a figure 8 and took off into the 6 inch deep Merced back stroking furiously to try to catch up with the youngens. Madi started out just behind me on a similar craft and Steve at some point thought he should come too so he rode the surfboard. Shortly thereafter he and Madison pulled out of the race and walked back to the truck and drove back to camp.
I paddled until the inner, upper flappy part of my arms were raw and I could just barely keep going. I'd lost sight of all the other flotillants and was a little concerned. The sun was low in the sky and great shadows began to fall across the valley. I had a vague idea of where I was supposed to haul out of the river near our campground, but didn't see anyone else from our group. After close to two hours of flapping my arms, using my flip flops as oars I pulled myself up on Sentinel Beach and walked up the pathway acting as though I knew exactly where I was going (which is essential when you're my age, carrying a large figure 8 float, wearing wet running clothes and needing a blow dry... You must look "intentional") I walked out to the main one way road to check the road sign to verify my location. As I looked through the woods along the road, I saw a small bear. I followed along parallel to him for a while, enjoying watching him, yet painfully aware that I was somewhat lost, and wondering if there was a larger bear watching me, watching him.
When I got to the road sign and saw that I was, indeed on the right road, I veered left and waddled down the wooded way to our campsite. When I arrived it became apparent that I was actually one of the first finishers...only behind both of my kids and their shipmates.
Madison greeted me and we headed off to Curry Village to the showers...where we stood in line with strangers and talked as though we were distant cousins and wrapped our hair up in towels and walked out in public.
Long story short... Yosemite was wonderful..beautiful...peaceful... So glad we got to see it. If I'm going to be honest though, I'd have to say that since I'm not a hiker or a climber I don't know if I'd like to go back.