Jul 12, 2015

Big Wilderness


  If you can't tell from my previous blogs, I tend to cynicism more often than not. In fact, I'm an odd combination of humanist and cynic.  I love people but despise our tendencies and most human systems including corporations. I reconcile my competing ideologies with the hope that as human beings we can improve ourselves, limit our failings, and ultimately, are destined to be at one with the Universe from which we derive our consciousness. We are the matter turned mind. We are each Gods for the short span of our lives.

A massive Rock Dome in Yosemite

Nevertheless, my cynical side rare fails to notice just how badly we humans can fuck things up...

Today I arrived in Yosemite National Park.  The Pacific Crest Trail winds through Yosemite for about 60 miles right after Donohue Pass. From what I've seen so far, it's damned glorious. Crystal clear high plain rivers snake their way though valleys of brilliant green. Stone mountains majestically keeping watch over fir-filled valleys so dense and beautiful, one can barely look past them to the sea of meadows they surround.

Yosemite Park is Eden on high.

Oh, and there are thousands upon thousands of gawkers, weekend-warriors, family excursion-ers, and beatnik throwbacks crowding around every trailhead, monument, and campground.  Multiple bus lines ferry in more and more wilderness seekers, each here to gaze upon glistening Half-Dome, camp for a night or two, and hike a bit in this high country.

 Four million visitors a year visit Yosemite (almost all in a four month season) and the park itself is manned to gills with Forest Service Rangers, Trail surveyors, vendors, lodge workers, cooks, and every other kind of service worker a park would need to accommodate such a massive number of people

   The campgrounds are filled to bursting, and everywhere you go you see the same Osprey backpacks, Big Agnes tents, and ultra light gear.  The girls are dressed cute in their colorful skintight hiking pants and every guy here has the same "sup bro?" look painted beneath his wrap around Ray-Bans and miners cap. Sure, everyone is friendly enough and just because I've been hiking a few months doesn't give me more right to the wilderness than anyone else.  But let's be clear, this isn't wilderness.  There's no frontier in this place. This is Central Park, but bigger and with serious topography.

Yosemite is still beautiful and awe-inspiring, but what John Muir spent a lifetime promoting and defending was not this place.  It's not wild enough for him. Or me.  I long to return to parks that no-one goes to.  The places the PCT showed me before the High Sierras. That time is coming and, thankfully, very soon.
  Sonora Pass marks the end of the Sierras and Yosemite and I as I write this blog I'm only 26 short miles away.  I'm hoping my days of quietly hiking the trail northward, rarely seeing anyone, and more so being excited when I actually did, return as I exit this National Park. 

Please don't get me wrong, I invite everyone to visit this park, and believe me, I'll be returning to explore more of its nooks and hideouts.  My complaint is not that the park is too... Park-like and un-wild. That's as it should be, I suppose.  I only wish that the solitude that John Muir loved so much, and that I too have come to enjoy, was more attainable in the place he once called home.  Alas, things change,  time moves on, and mountains are moved beneath the will of men.  At least I know Alaska will always be there when I need it. 

No comments :