Yosemite NP, 2018

Two friends I had made last year during my trip to the MK were down in California for some incredibly intense training this year. They got in touch with me and asked whether I wanted to hang out. Naturally, of course, I said yes! Who wouldn't want to connect with wonderful friends who just live so far away and are so busy. As is par for the course, I proposed a few crazy trips and M & A bit at one...Yosemite! Neither of them had ever seen the valley, and I love showing people new places. So exciting!

I met them in the beautiful Sierra foothills, the oaks and rolling grass hills undulating off of the flat Central Valley floor, the landscape that makes you giddy knowing that the mountains are close. With great patience A showed me the basics of how to make a simple horseshoe and gave me a try too...though I certainly am nowhere near close to any skill level with a hammer and anvil, I learned an amazing appreciation for how much of an art form it is, every shoe a unique and special sculpture. I shall keep my learning example in the hopes that someday we can help finish it. For daylight was leaving us and we had to make it to great Mexican food and onwards into the valley. Driving in the dark towards Curry Village I was sad myself not to see but with a good sleep...

Waking up to the gorgeous walls of Yosemite is a unique spiritual treat. The morning was cool, the light revealing the falls that were going strong. Yosemite Falls barreling down in full force, and new ones like Staircase Falls right by the village that I had never seen. We all got out for a nice jog along the Valley Loop Trail, always fun to get up close to some of the rocks and begin to ogle the great valley. We stopped off at the Ahwahnee for breakfast, and it was wonderful to experience it with new people pointing out great details in the iron work, rugs, painting, masonry, everything that I had never seen before! The building itself is a labor of love. And the breakfast, still wonderful.

M had a brilliant idea to rent some bikes so we started biking around the valley floor. We stopped off at Yosemite Falls, but it was swamped with people. The falls are gorgeous, but the crowds got us all talking and thinking. It is great, yes, that everyone has the ability to visit such great beauty...but at the same time, we wondered if perhaps by making it too easy many people do not have the capability to open themselves to experience it. That perhaps hard work and effort to reach such a special place is needed to experience the transcendence of its beauty and make it a part of one's soul. We leave the crowds and are back on the bicycles. Although the drivers are a constant distraction, biking the valley floor truly was a unique first experience. Moving slower you can take the time to look around at the valley and weaving Merced surrounding you instead of having to focus on the road! We found a wonderful spot off of a bridge where we sat by the river for over an hour, no one else passing by, playing Scrabble by the Merced with El Capitan looming overhead, in between each word checking the progress of the multiple teams crawling up the face. I have an admiration for climbers; I cannot see a path up a rock nor trust a rope, but yet can understand the thrill it must be to look down upon the pretty valley and be that close to the rock. After a wonderful snacking dinner and Scrabble on the beach, M turned in and I got to introduce A to escrima next to the Merced underneath the stars and the shadow of Half Dome, flashlihghts pointed upwards to reveal the moving sticks, A teaching me about all kinds of other wonderful weaponry and skills and beginning again to see how everything can tie together. Like ourselves martial arts is as mallebale as the path fo the river through time. What better of a training area could one ever want.

The next day we started off on the Nevada-Vernal Falls loop, but we were all sore from the biking and a bit frustrated; even starting out real early we still couldn't beat the crowds. Thankfully due to winter trail closures we found a nice side trail and were able to sit down and snack just hearing the water and looking at the trees around us. Once agin, showing that even getting just a quarter mile off the popular paths, Yosemite can still provide solitude, even in the valley itself. It's sad that probably a thousand people could have passed by without ever seeing the beauty of these trees' roots weaving through the rocks, the sunlight glinting off of small streams of water dripping from a moss covered rock to nurture the clovers underneath. The dichotomy of its visitors fully on display, Yosemite again shows ourselves who we are: a tourist, or someone coming to a cathedral to relax, commune and perhaps experience the beauty of God. This valley is holy; it is a shame that so many people treat their time spent in celebratory structures buil by the hand of man with more respect than their time in this holy place that springs from the Earth, built by the divine.

On the way out we visited the Tuolumne Grove and I got to spend some time with my friends among the sequoia. Although it is a small grove, it is an experience that now must be earned. Even again, walking down the road, once I turned that corner and first caught sight of them again, my soul was happy. These are the trees that I hear sing, and each of these groves has a unique song. While I always hear the old ones, while we were walking around the grove M asked me a question and pointed. She asked if a smaller tree was a sequoia and, yes, it was a younger one just starting out on its journey. For M, that was one of the most beautiful of trees in the grove. Not because of its size or its shape, but because it was starting out on its journey, proof that the great trees may hopefully still be with us for many generations to come. What a wonderful gift to be able to see the beauty of the young trees with those hopeful eyes.

I am so glad I was able to visit this special place with my friends. Sharing their experiences of it for the first time has improved my own, reinforced my thoughts, but also opened me up to being so impressed wtih new nuances and wonders that were always right in front of my face but that I never saw for over twenty years! There is so much I still want to show them; there is still so much they have yet to show me. This Earth is so beautiful, and it is always calling.

This is a new adventure for all of us, hopefully the start of a long and lasting friendship, bonded together by the joy of sharing the beauty of the Earth.

The Photographs

Picutres were from the a900 system with the 24-70 and 70-400 leses and an iPhone SE.

Click "Next" in the upper right to begin.