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Yosemite: The Heart of California

By Steve Lee

Many of those who visit California from overseas may pass by this national park, located only few hours away from the Bay area of northern California. Some may recognize this Big-mouth (Yosemite was referred to as "Ahwahnee" among Miwoks indigenous tribe of Yosemite, translated as "big mouth" in English) opened wide within the mountains of California as their lap tops’ default screen saver. But there are more reasons to include this particular place in your trip through the big bear state. Needless to mention its stunning view of nature, Yosemite has a lot to offer for those who are looking for a restful day away from the concrete jungles of Los Angeles and San Francisco. It's also a nice place to brag about having visited when talking to your co-workers, most of whom have undoubtedly spent the weekend staring into their macbook screens. Either way, if you do visit, you won’t regret a single second that you spend at this National Park.

Our plan was to hit and run. We planned to leave San Jose early at dawn, and to arrive at the gate of Yosemite by 8:00 in the morning. We planned to hike, hike, and hike for at least 7 hours from the bottom of the Yosemite Valley to Glacier point, completing the trip before sunset. The plan seemed to be perfect in the beginning, until we got to the trailhead. Initially, we reached the rim of the Yosemite valley by 8:00 as we planned . There, confronted with the majestic view of the valley right before us, we realized that all the meticulous plans we made were pointless. Left speechless, my three companions and I parked on the curb of the winding road to the heart of the Yosemite, gazing at the void among trees of the park.

Where we stood was not a Yosemite that everybody expected. It was more or less like a desert in the middle of the forest. Though there were trees surrounding us that have stood in the same place in the beginning of all creations, what seeped into our sight was a land burning with bushes of red and brown. It was a bizarre but somehow soothing sight. From there, it took us quite some time to wake up from a brief daydream of running downhill to see the bottom of the burning land.

I've always believed that a view of such size possesses an unspeakable power-- power that reminds us how minuscule we are, and how insignificant our concerns are. When we encountered this section of Yosemite, that belief came to reality. We were so small, and of course, our concerns regarding our lives outside of the forest also became small. The scenery immediately humbled us, like it was meant to be. Yosemite's breathtaking sight was there-forth deeply embedded in us; what an unforgettable sight it was. And that is how we started our trip.

The road to the valley of Yosemite was windy and slightly dangerous, but regardless, our hearts were too pumped with excitement and high expectations. After half an hour from a brief viewpoint, we arrived at the bottom of the valley, a place where people gather to prepare for their own journey through Yosemite. As expected, the bottom of the valley was packed with people. From there, we started a short journey to find a parking spot so that our real journey, the hike, could start. We successfully parked near the Yosemite Valley visitor center, then grabbed our gears from the trunk.

At 9:48 a.m PST, we took the first step of our journey through Yosemite from Four-Mile Trail. It was an exciting hike, anticipating another spectacular view from our final destination, Glacier Point. True, the hike was long, Despite our awareness of the journey’s length and intensity, fatigue soon overtook us. But the show must go on. We were already beat, but the vigorous 3-hour march and momentary breaks for breathtaking views on route finally brought us to our destination: the Glacier Point. Man, what a stunning site that was. Frankly, the sight did not relieve the exhaustion we felt, but I was glad I pushed through to venture Yosemite.


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