That Yosemite Summer

Thursday, June 12, 2014

After a raucous going-away/graduation party that ended in a drunken stupor of familiar bodies strewn about the house, the following morning was dedicated to a much needed breakfast with the best of friends and copious amounts of orange juice to alleviate the hangover. My imminent departure was met with last-minute, tear-stained hugs followed by bouts of hysterical laughter.

I'm not going to lie, it was a daunting task to be leaving behind the comfort of family and friends that had my back no matter the circumstances. I can't even express the amount of times that my shenanigans had gotten me into a situation where I needed my close friends to bail me out. That being said, I knew that my friends were, in essence, there for me no matter the distance. The amount of support and endless love that I had received (and luckily continue to, to this day) left me feeling confident about my endeavor.

Truth be told, it was a long arduous, dehydrated journey for me. I left much later than I wanted to (not until midday) filled with endless stops to get my bearings and pick up last minute necessities. I didn't even end up leaving the Inland Empire until sometime around 1pm, which made my trip quite long.

I didn't reach the park entrance until about 8pm. I was greeted by a cheery park ranger at the entrance. I informed him that I was arriving into the park to work.

"Is this your first time coming in?"
"Welcome!" he happily declared. "Go right on in!"

Exhausted and thrilled to have arrived, I didn't realize I still had about another hour left on my journey. I was set to work in Wawona, which is a mere 5 miles from the Southern Gate entrance that I had just passed through. But first, I had to stop by the Yosemite Valley, another 35 miles and the heart of Yosemite National Park for a weeklong orientation. For someone at this point severely exhausted and not particularly used to driving through mountain roads, this was an ordeal. I remember stopping at least three times just to get my head straight.

But eventually, I got there. I gazed up at El Capitan bathed in the moonlight, the largest granite monolith in the world and a favorite for climbers and gleefully noticed all the headlamps atop it's face, climbers' setting up shop for the night, continuing their climb the following day. It was the night of the Supermoon, I remember vividly loving the view of the roads and forest being illuminated by the moonlight. I learned after the fact that such a thing as a moonbow exists and that this would have been a prime opportunity to view it at the base of Yosemite Falls. I never did get a chance to see the moonbow that summer due to scheduling conflicts with work and eventually it was warm enough that the seasonal falls (including Yosemite Falls) had dried out. I do vow to return and see it, one day!

The first week was filled with endless encounters with new people, each that I absolutely adored. I tell you, it takes a certain kind of person to drop everything and live in a national park for a summer. There was an instant sense of camaraderie and acceptance that I have yet to discover anywhere else. There is without a doubt a sense a family that comes about amongst the employees. Never was there an instant in which I went anywhere within the park that I wasn't welcomed with open arms.

It's an interesting sensation being cut apart from all connections. I think given the circumstances of being away from society and most of us being without any means of contacting friends and family outside the park further encouraged us to just... live in the moment. The experience was almost like a no holds barred summer camp experience for adults.

My roommate and I, who were holed up in a small and hot room with three bunk beds (that's SIX people, count em, and a whole lotta bags) met up with some fellas who inarguably had some of the best temp housing setup yet so we decided to just squat with them. Two people to a room!? Yeah, you do the math.

On one of those first nights we all we started to hear a steady drum beat. We ended up following the drum out towards the Merced River where we encountered a small gathering of other employees, just hanging out and having a good time. On our way back later that night as we drunkenly stumbled back to our employee housing I remember a majestic stag crossing our path, it's antlers raised high and it's eyes illuminated by the red light of our headlamps.

This was it.

We were in the wild.




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