I’ve heard it said that upon seeing Yosemite for the first time – not on film or in a picture, but in real life – you will be nothing short of mind blown, and I guess I was. Oddly, not by the impossible-to-imagine size of El Capitan, Half Dome and Mt. Watkins (that some people climb the three in a day is quite shocking though!) but by the circumstances surrounding my first visit to the Valley.
The couple of days among the hills bordering the National Park in the West reminded me of the joy that can be derived from meeting strangers and immediately feeling like you’re not strangers at all. Being at ease in a new place and with new people is something I hadn’t experienced in years, and rediscovering the potential of human connection was what blew my mind more than 7500 ft of vertical rock ever could.
What’s more, I expected Yosemite to reinforce my complete lack of interest in climbing its big walls. Too hard, too much hassle, too tall… I had all these reasons for why I wouldn’t ever want to do it. But, to my surprise, El Capitan wasn’t threatening. On the contrary, it seemed to smile at me, beckoning me into its vertical world of living “inside a cut diamond”. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to go, but it certainly feels like a possibility now, and possibilities are what makes life exciting.
But climbers were not the first ones to call Yosemite home. The National Park, like many others across the US, was created at the expense of... continue reading now→