In honor of the National Park Service Centennial today, I’m re-running my Yosemite post from a couple of years back. It remains a turning point in my adult life and one of my favorite Priss & Vinegar posts ever. Being in nature changes you in the very best of ways, and I am so grateful to the National Park Service for its stewardship of this precious resource.
Reality Check, Yosemite-Style
Last week was my birthday. To celebrate the occasion, I went on the most challenging hike of my life. And it was awesome.
In recent years, I’ve marked my birthday with elegant dinners, indulgent spa visits, and nursing newborns (twice, because I have crap timing). But this year, I wanted — and frankly, needed — something a little more dramatic. It’s been an overwhelming time, between moving to the suburbs and settling into mothering two busy little humans. Weeks have bled into one another unremarkably, and by the end of each day I’m utterly spent. I’ve found myself drifting toward escapes like scanning my Instagram feed and endlessly shopping throw pillows on One Kings Lane instead of digging in to what’s actually happening, like my kids playing right in front of me. I used to count reading and cooking among my chief pleasures, but lately there’s been a lot of TV and takeout.
Call this a drift toward bad habits, call it a rut, call it whatever you want. It wasn’t headed anywhere good, and my birthday — my lucky number birthday, at that — seemed an opportunity to right the ship.
And what better place to regain one’s perspective than Yosemite, a place to bear witness to the awesome magnitude of nature and push the limits of your physical ability. (And escape the reach of most mobile telephone providers.) It turns out that some pretty special thinking happens during a hike — resolutions about how to live purposefully, metaphors between the way you approach a hike and the way you approach life — so much so that I feel like I could write an entire volume of corny hiking truisms. Being outside, being quiet, and surrounding yourself with nature at its grandest? It’s the ultimate reality check.
I know I’m veering into dangerously cheesy territory, but being in Yosemite meant something to me. I will be forever grateful to my husband for planning such a special trip and to my in-laws for tending to our busy children so diligently while we were away. I feel more focused, energized and purposeful than I have in ages. Aaaand I’m already dreaming about a return trip to hike Half Dome and debating how soon we can take the kids along, too…