Yosemite Trip Rap Up
Flakes of snow weave paths of argyle through the needles of yellow pine and incense cedar as my three tent mates and I tell stories and recount the events of the day. Strangers just days earlier, we now laugh and joke with trail-earned comfort. It’s the evening of day five, and although we don’t yet know it, our morning will bring with it rarely seen vistas of a Yosemite icon. Half Dome powdered with spring snow will welcome us and signal the final leg of our journey into the valley of Muir and Adams.

Beginning days earlier at the southern apex of Yosemite National Park in Wawona, California our group of ten set out to climb the Chilnualna falls trail 2,400 vertical feet to the unseasonably low May snow line. Over the course of the days that followed, our group hiked, snowshoed, sweat and shivered nearly 30 miles through the vast Yosemite National Park wilderness. But as our trip leader Carson commented later, the magnitude of our journey could not only be measured in miles. Our determination, fitness and skills in navigation were put to the test as our team worked together to cross swollen rivers, ascend rocky outcroppings and traverse the undulating mountain terrain. As the first group to explore the southern back-country of Yosemite in 2011, we saw no human tracks in the Sierra snow except our own. Yet tracks of black bear, mountain ion, hare, deer and squirrel were plentiful and powerful reminders of our roles as guests in the rugged forests and snow-covered meadows of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

After our several thousand foot descent into Yosemite Valley, the team spent a day freely roaming the awe inspiring glacially carved canyon surrounding us. We rubbed our eyes in disbelief of the living postcard in which we found ourselves and relaxed in the warm sun along the banks of the Merced river. I often reflect quietly upon the accomplishments of our journey. Especially now, as the sweat collects on upon my brow in the Southern heat, I often think back to the morning ritual of dressing inside the relative warmth of our tent before emerging into the bright, crisp and breathtakingly beautiful landscape of Yosemite National Park.

-Clinton Begley
Touch The Earth Intern