Sunday, 31 March 2013

Yosemite, Part II

The thing I love most about going on a hike for a few days is the simplicity of it all. Out of communication, away from advertising, away from traffic. And as I often tend to hike alone; away from people.

The rhythm of the day is broken down into the basics. Eat, walk, rest. There aren’t many decisions to be made, and there’s a whole lot of space and time for thinking. Everything I need for the few days I’m away is carried on my back. Simple.

I like to rely on my body, my own physical exertion, as a means of transport. 

I’m with Thoreau when he says “Simplify, simplify, simplify! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.”

Admittedly, it seems that simplicity is relative to time and place. When John Muir explored in the Sierra Nevada in the nineteenth century, his preparation went like this: "I rolled up some bread and tea in a pair of blankets with some sugar and a tin cup and set off."

In contrast, a quick tally of a typical hike for me revealed that – excluding food – I carry and wear at least thirty five items, worth well over two thousand dollars.

Still, life on a hike is definitely simpler. With a solid pair of boots on my feet, a map and compass in my pocket, a pack containing warm gear, sleeping gear, basic but healthy food and a book and journal, and with a few days and a few kilometres of path ahead of me, I’m about as happy as I can be.

That’s how it was that crisp sunny morning in Yosemite National Park. I’d mapped out a three day loop walk that would take me from Tuolomne Meadows over a couple of passes of around 11,000 feet, around the shore of several highland lakes and back beside a clear bubbling stream into Tuolomne on the famous John Muir trail.

I’d be walking through glacier-carved foreign lands, one of the world’s most famous and striking National Parks. The autumn weather was perfect for hiking, cool and sunny. It was bear country (black bears, not grizzlies), I might see deer, and the higher peaks were covered in snow. You can drink from the rivers, and camping is allowed anywhere along the way.

I felt a lucky man, light and free, as I shouldered my pack and set off up the track.


Following a path into beautiful country, on a cool clear morning = happiness. 

Above the tree-line, the path continues.

On top of the first pass.