It’s another tranquil day in the Yosemite backcountry. Again I smell the wild onion as I open up my eyes. I lay in our tent and imagine what my day will include – granite stone, rambling streams, and bright green meadows. Not a bad day at all.
As we prepare breakfast in the early morning light, several hikers pass by our camp heading upward, making their miles for today. Our deer friends again join us scampering through the forest. We watch them as we eat, sipping our coffee. The young ones look at us suspiciously, and we move smoothly so as not to startle them. Another hiker spots them as he walks by, and they scatter as he walks to the stream for water.
The morning blurs into day as we walk, and lose ourselves in the scenery. This place never gets old. I love the meadows, and forests of Yosemite. For years my family has come to the valley for Thanksgiving. My brother and I have climbed and hiked in various areas of the park. I was grateful to years later come here with Lupine, watching her face, amazed by the parks grandiosity. Over the years we have been lucky enough to explore more and more of the park, always astounded by it’s immensity and prolific beauty.
We stop at Merrick creek for a snack. It’s so inviting, pleasant and tranquil we stay for a while soaking up some sun and admiring the water as it gently rolls down stream. When we arrive there is a group of several hikers looking at their maps. Each of them previously passed us on the trail hiking at a fast pace. I am not a fast hiker. I am not a slow hiker either but out here, I certainly feel like one. Sometimes I wish I were faster. Sometimes I compare myself to others. Then I look up to admire the granite stone, perching over us.
I stop and listen to the stream.
I remember to be thankful for the time we have. We are lucky to be here, able to move with easy tempo. We are lucky to have time to do this trail. We have no hard deadline, but time to meander and daydream. Yes, we must return for work in the fall. So, yes we must move forward. But, we also must stop to admire, to soak the scenery into our memories.
As I sit next to the stream with Lupine, I feel at home with the river. For the moment I am a guest. I am a rock, sitting still next to the river. I watch it. I admire. I see what no one else will see. Others will see this river. But not the ripples I see right now. Not the water that flows through in this moment. We are the only eyes watching at this given minute. This second. I watch as water passes. Time passes. It will not repeat. I feel I’ve been given a gift. It simply required me to stop. To watch. To listen. To quiet the chattering in my mind.
When my feet dry and I put my shoes on, and walk away down the trail, this stream will continue flowing, providing gifts to those who stop. I look at the rocks being hugged by water and hope others will stop to notice, get lost in the tranquility of the here and now.
We walk for several more miles, again twisting through the terrain. As we disappear into the shade of trees, we spot mucky pools of water and mosquitoes descend on our skin. When we arrive at Wilma Lake, it’s still sunny and I quickly set our camp as a cloud of mosquitoes hover around me. We eat dinner in the sun next to the lake, growing irritable as the mosquitoes attack, then rush into the tent, careful to ditch our pursuers.
In the tent I sigh with relief, watching the mosquitoes buzz against our rain fly. You can’t get me here. I watch the sky dim to starlight, feeling safe and satisfied.