Yosemite: a place for reflection and changing perceptions

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

GRADY OLSON, Channels Staff

In the mountains of Yosemite, Lake Vernon, the societal pressures disappear and the natural world takes me away from technological distractions into a place of quiet serenity.

There looks to be a bench made from a tree, up and over the little hill and on top of a ledge overlooking our campsite.

A large low branch that grows out parallel with the ground has a flat part looks just big enough if I could jump up to it.

An opening in the tree is at perfect eye level and a spyglass of leaves reveals a panoramic of the granite valley. I can see the little pond that sits between our campsite.

My feet are dirty, blistered a bit and have some blood coming from in between piggy three and four. My only pair of shorts is filthy. The little whiskey we have left stayed somewhat cold from letting the bottle float in the ice bath lake.

I am completely alone. The spyglass starts to move, the little pine needles shiver and small waves form across the lake as the wind starts ripping through it.

The sound echoes off the granite cliffs, a loud whoosh fills the valley, it sounds somewhat scary, like somebody is coming. I look across the lake and down the valley waiting for something but nothing.

A welcoming feeling of ease starts to build inside me. A reassurance of sorts, that I am alright, that everything is going to be alright.

My mind is slowing down, settling down, like a dog spinning around before it burrows itself into the couch cushions for an afternoon nap.

I begin to just sit and stare and appreciate the scenery around me. Taking long back straightening inhales through my nostrils so I can smell the cleanliness of the air as well as taste it. I didn’t think coming out here would be much, but I was eager to endeavor on my first backpacking trip.

It would have been a tragic mistake having deciding not to go. I haven’t been truly alone for a long time, alone from everything, from having to be there ten minutes early, from wear this to that, from call him so I can email her, from asking what time is it.

I don’t have to try and look a certain way nor impress anyone. There is no stress over a deadline, or having to work a double on Saturday. I am what I want to be. I realize how small I am, tiny, a speck of dust from a sand grain that got lost from the sandpit at an old abandoned grammar school.

This lake will continue to get cut by the wind, the bench tree will still grow, but I can only appreciate for so long.

I have my escapes though, as does everyone else.

I love music, surfing and writing; they help me get away from the world. Constantly listening to music, only to be interrupted by a text or a live news report of what my “friends that I follow” are currently listening too. Surfing is where I feel, usually after school before I have work but only if I can finish my homework in the morning.

Writing, mostly done late at night or early in the morning when I can’t sleep.

I have overlooked the joys that make my life just that. Continuing on instead of pausing for five seconds to watch a pelican glide across the water, close my eyes and look at the sun for a moment feeling its rays.

The outer needles are beginning to dance again; the wind must be on its way back.