Adult life is stressful.
Oftentimes we find that we as adults are behind on sleep and have not met our deadline. Weeks can be long, and the only way you can survive a work day is praying for the next coffee break or fantasizing about the nap you will be taking as soon as you get off. Even after work, the drive back home is filled with frustration as you pass drivers who have no business on the road and make way home a dangerous place.
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One day you wake up and discover that you need a vacation from the weekly grind. The beach is nice, but the surf is crowded with tourists and the towns are a pain to drive through. Disneyland sounds like a sick joke from someone who wants to see you with an empty wallet, tired legs, and chapped lips from waiting in the sun for Space Mountain. The real escape that will melt away the stress from the craziness of a work week is a trip to a national park.
For me, Yosemite National Park is the most beautiful and relaxing place.
From my town of Fresno, it is an hour long drive up to the mountains where I can get out and breathe fresh pine-tree air. Yosemite does not have crowds of littering beach-goers or children crying in line to see Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Instead, it has a solid group of nature-loving people who make their trip up to Yosemite so that they can be among the solitude and beauty of the forest. Yosemite is a place where you do not have to wait in line for an adventure made from another person's imagination. It is a place where the ultimate freedom awaits for those who have a spirit of adventure and who are not scared to take a dusty trail to see what beauty is beyond their horizon.
My favorite weekends are the ones where I pack my hiking backpack and set off for my favorite trail in Yosemite. With a couple bags of beer jerky and preparedness, I can have a great, refreshing weekend where I push myself up the mountain and relax at the top. The hike up to Upper Yosemite Falls is strenuous, and with a pack filled with provisions, hiking the distance uphill requires a great deal of resting between pushes onward.
Once you make it to the top of Yosemite Falls, you are instantly rewarded for your effort. The air is cooling and the pools that form before the waterfall are gratifying and the perfect place to draw water for purify in your water-bottle. The greatest reward is setting your pack down at the top of the hike and going to the edge of the falls. There you can see Yosemite Valley below and all of the beautiful rock faces that surround it. All the while, the waterfall is close by the edge and creates a nice mist to cool you from your hike as you take in the fantastic view.
To set up camp, all that is needed is a short walk from the falls to the best campfire pit available. Because of the hike, exhaustion will play a factor in how long it takes to get to camp and set everything up, but the need to rest and relax will be a powerful motivator. Unpacking the tent and sleeping bag is easy, and once a campfire is set, all that is needed to sit back while the food cooks and enjoy all the nearby nature. As the night progresses, the pools are nearby to take a dip in and refresh. They provide the best shower available after a hike that far into the mountains. There are also the stars that pepper the sky when it gets really late. My favorite part of the night is looking up at them through my tent's see through ceiling and having that be the last imagine in my head before I fall asleep.
After a night in the mountains, I start to miss my bed and feel like a shower would be nice. Usually, I jump into a stream to wake up, and then I make my morning coffee and heat up my freeze dried eggs. After a bit of packing, I start the trek down the mountain with all the comforts of civilization on my mind.
When I reach my car, it is a relief to put on some fresh clothes and make my back out of the forest. Before I head home, however, I make sure to stop by my favorite gastro pub in Oakhurst called South Gate Brewing Company and pick up a tri-tip sandwich and some of their in-house made root beer before I finish the drive back to home. The food is always great, and sitting down at the nice restaurant gives me time to appreciate the journey to the wilderness and back that I just had.
Once the weekend is over and the daily grind starts again, its back to my normal coffee dependency and lack of sleep. Getting out to Yosemite gives me something to remember as I wake up early and make my way through the week. I can rethink about the beautiful trails on my hike or the starry night sky over Yosemite that I looked into before I fell asleep.
There is nothing as effective as taking a trip to the mountains to relieve stress through the beauty of nature and through the exercise of hiking. National parks like Yosemite are there for us to admire and remember that life is not always a grind, but there is always untouched beauty out there that relieves the tension of modern-day life and deserves appreciation for its majesty.