Greetings from Yosemite National Park

Let me start off with a few things about me—or perhaps, things that I used to believe were true about me.

  1. I like sitting outdoors, if I’m in a lounging chair and have a pool within five feet of me.
  2. I like spiders and ants, only if they are dead or so far away that I can’t see them.
  3. I like hiking, for ten minutes until I reach my local ice cream shop.

With these prerequisites, backpacking in Yosemite’s wilderness seemed like a total nightmare. I was wrong. This summer, I backpacked Yosemite’s backcountry with eight other girls under the helping hand of two kind and knowledgeable educators. Together, we tasted the first drops of dehydrated milk, waded in the crystal clear lakes, tripped and collapsed from the weight of our backpacks, and hoisted each other back up again. We huddled together for warmth in our sleeping bags, told bad muffin jokes along the trails to lighten up the mood, and watched the mesmerizing night skies for shooting stars. Through these nine days, I found beauty and happiness in the simplest of things. It shocked me how little it took to make me content in the wilderness as opposed to the “real world.” As we hiked from May Lake to Sunrise Lakes and then to Glen Aulin, the rolling rivers and towering mountains never failed to take my breath away. In the wilderness, I discovered a new level of self-confidence and acceptance for myself. As more and more dirt piled onto my face, I felt more confident about my appearance than ever before. There is just something about rolling in the mud and not looking in the mirror for nine days that made me not worry about other people’s judgments. I also realized, in the midst of hiking and reflecting on my life, that I took many things for granted. Being a teenager in the 21st century, the first thing I thought I would miss was my phone. However, Facebook and Instagram never even crossed my mind while backpacking. Instead, I missed the simple things like music, my family, my bed, and my mother’s cooking. Backpacking in Yosemite was an eye-opening and life-changing experience. Never again will I be quick to judge what that wilderness can offer for me, for in it, I found my new happy place.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Yosemite National Park

With its sculpted granite rock formations, towering ancient sequoia trees and spectacular waterfalls, it's no wonder Yosemite is one of the most celebrated national parks in the world.

State(s): California

Established: 1890

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