“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that wildness is necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” ~John Muir~
While I am enjoying life on the coast, life by the big city has been much harder for me to adapt to. Don’t get me wrong, San Francisco is fantastic, and I love that there is always something going on and something new to try. However, getting around in the city is stressful. My friend Shelby, who grew up in Miami, once accused me of not knowing what real traffic was. She was right. I know better now.
Adding to the madness of the constant flow of cars and the insanity of parallel parking on steep hills are the hoards of bikes racing around only feet from these speeding vehicles. San Francisco is a fantastic city for bicyclists, with dedicated bike routes and bike lanes. Yet in my first two weeks here I saw as many bikers come within inches of getting hit by cars. As much as I love the idea of bike commuting, the thought of riding so close to all those cars scares me. Since my arrival the bike has remained inside with a flat tire I “conveniently” haven’t gotten around to fixing yet.
I was starting to resemble one of John Muir’s “nerve-shaken, over-civilized” people and I was badly in need of a challenge that pushed me out of my comfort zone without hitting the panic button. So when I had a week off, I did what I think John Muir would have done. I went back to Yosemite to go backpacking. Alone.
I love backpacking but I had never gone out alone. The few times I have camped by myself I’ve still always been within shouting distance of another human being. The thought of setting out into true wilderness, with no cellphone reception, no way out besides my own two feet, and no guarantee that I would even see other people secretly terrified me.
It was my friends in Yosemite that reassured me. On their recommendation I decided to hike the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River. They reminded me how ridiculous my fear of being eaten by a mountain lion was. They gave me beta on the trail and it’s condition. Even the park ranger who issued the permit insisted that I was about to see one of the most beautiful places in Yosemite.
They were right. It was daunting. It was challenging. It was unimaginably hot. And it was spectacular. It was the best adventure I’ve been on and I came out of it feeling like a total badass.
See what it inspired me to finally do?
P.S. Yes, I brought a map with me and I used it frequently. (If you want to get technical I actually brought three maps with with me.) I realize that this blog is called Without a Map, but that title is meant to invoke the spirit of adventure, not stupidity.