Here We Go!
Or, what the hell have I gotten myself into and how can I arrange for sherpas to get me up this mountain?!
It was my lucky day. Tuesday, May 17, 2016. I was aimlessly scrolling through facebook (why do I do that?!!), barely even watching as one post after another did their laps across my screen when a post by Yosemite National Park caught my eye. “The Tioga Road will open at noon tomorrow, Wednesday, May 18th!” Perfect. I was heading to Joshua Tree a day early anyway – why not go up and over the pass, taking advantage not only of the incredible drive through Yosemite and Tuolumne Meadows, but also of the route down 395 vs. Interstate 5?
Couldn't be better. I have driven the stretch from the Bay Area to Yosemite enough times that I know almost every stretch of road and the familiarity of the ride out to Big Oak Flat has become second nature. Once I pass Oakdale I know I am well on the way, and when I glide through the National Park entrance gate, the blood pressure goes down (well, hopefully not too much as I tend to already have low BP). I am a proud, card carrying annual National Park pass holder and I can't imagine anywhere I would prefer my money to go. With few people on the road on a mid-week non-holiday Wednesday, it was even more pleasurable. I stopped a few times to look at the beautiful cascades of water that were flowing more strongly than I have seen in a lontime, but was mostly wanting to beeline up to Tenaya Lake and Tuolumne Meadows.
The scene never disappoints, nor does the fresh mountain air that I gulp deep into my lungs. It was chilly up at 9,000 feet, but the crispness only made the contrast from my everyday environment more delectable. It is up here, at elevation, feeling the power of the river, that I come alive. Sitting by the Tuolumne River, swollen with spring runoff, I was reminded that it is these precious places that our youth must experience and this is what drives my efforts to raise money for Bay Area Wilderness Training. As incredible and as rewarding as any life can be, I most fervently believe that getting into places such as these and experiencing the wonder, the power, and even the harshness, allows for a greater understanding of all that we encounter internally and externally in this existence.