Our Yosemite Trip
by Henry Jugan
The day was Monday, May 6th. At 7:45 a.m., I awoke to my alarm clock a little earlier than usual. I walked into the kitchen to make myself a bowl of cereal as I fantasized about what the current day and the upcoming ones would bring. I envisioned lush forests and crashing waterfalls. I awoke from this daydream by my mother reminding me that we needed to leave. I grabbed my duffle bag brimming with my poorly packed belongings, and headed out the door. After driving for a couple minutes, I disembarked from my mother’s car and was greeted at Lighthouse by many familiar faces, some smiling and some solemn. After a brief pep talk from Gloria, I tossed my duffle bag into the trunk of Everest’s car and I was back on the road—but this time, for more than a few minutes.
I sat in the car for hours as we passed over sizable hills, through barren plains, and along treacherous and winding mountain roads. We passed these terrains until we arrived at a stop that was mundane compared to the rest: Costco. Here we obtained the food we needed for the rest of the trip. We bought all kinds of food ranging from apples to waffles. After we had acquired the essentials, we were back on the road. We drove for many miles over noisy highways and crowded intersections, until I noticed a subtle switch in scenery. We had made it to a tranquil and serene place—somewhere untouched by the hand of man and industry…we had arrived in Yosemite.
As the cars yielded and came to a stop, so did the voices of the people riding in them. The beauty of the national park immediately engrossed everyone on the trip. Birds were warbling, trees were rustling in the wind, and the wide eyes of many students glistened in the sun, perched high in the cloudless sky. After the sense of sudden amazement had somewhat worn off, we turned to our deceptively large cabin. The cabin, placed precariously on top of a large hill, was quite some distance away from the rest of the town, meaning we didn’t have to worry about anyone outside of Lighthouse ruining our relaxing experience. After many trips back and forth from the cars to the cabin, unpacking our possessions and food, we sat down for some free time and some games. At around 9:30 we went to sleep seeing as we were all exhausted from our nine-hour drive.
At 8:00 the following morning, I was wakened by the sound of woodpeckers drilling holes into trees in the distance, a slight breeze stirring fallen leaves on the ground, and Everest’s loud alarm clock…his very loud alarm clock. I got out of bed, stepped outside, and was met with a light and refreshing blast of cold air on my face. It was at this moment that the dream-like experience of being in Yosemite vanished. I was fully aware of the fact that I was in the wilderness and that I was going to love it. As I walked up stairs onto the deck, I looked up to observe a lush forest with granite cliffs towering over everything from the top left of the view. I was in complete awe of the scenery, so much so that I stared at it for at least two to three minutes before I was ready to go inside and eat breakfast. After eating my meal that had been prepared for me by the group on breakfast duty, we all gathered in the common area for a meeting where Gloria described what was planned for the day. The agenda consisted of mainly one event that stemmed into multiple others. We were going to disband into two groups, one group would hike Mirror Lake, and the other would get to hike Vernal Falls. So we headed out. After a drive into the lower valley, we went to the trailhead where we decided who wanted to go on each hike. I decided to go on the Vernal Falls hike and I am very glad I decided to do so. On the hike, I noticed many natural wonders that were incredible. On the way up the mountain, we passed a raging river that was so powerful that when you stopped to look at it, you could feel the rocks vibrate underneath your feet. As we continued up the trail, we passed a section where the tree cover above us disappeared and as we turned our heads to see what we could see, we discovered a waterfall spewing out of the mountain with such force that it resembled a fire-hose being directed over the valley. As we ventured further up the trail, we came across a somewhat rickety bridge that was stable, but at the same time seemed to be aged and worn. As I crossed the bridge, I could feel the sheer force and intensity of the river flowing beneath it. The way the current swept away anything that dare question and challenge it was incredible. The water, white from the speed it was traveling at, crashed and raged so much so that you had to yell to communicate with anyone, regardless of how close you were. As we crossed the bridge, two other members and I decided to take a break as the rest of the group persevered along the trail; they made it to the top of the waterfall and described the experience as magical and extraordinary. As we returned to the cabin from the valley, the only topic of conversation amongst my group was the experience we shared on our way up and down the Vernal Falls trail.
The next day, we were out the door almost as hastily as we woke up. After breakfast, we headed straight to the Mariposa Grove in hopes of seeing the Grizzly Giant Sequoia. As we embarked on our endeavor up the mountain, we passed many scenic sights. As I ventured off into a world of my own viewing the scenery, I abruptly averted my attention to the destination, Mariposa Grove. I was immediately engrossed by my surroundings. I observed a stream, softly running at the base of mountainous redwood trees, towering over anything and everything near them. We stepped out of our shuttle into a new dimension. A dimension that consisted of pure beauty and nature, the only man made object was the trail. After we had gathered our belongings and ourselves we began our endeavor. As I passed through the peaceful environment, I passed by trickling brooks that ran through moss-coated stones, surrounding colossal trees, nearly as tall as skyscrapers. The trees covered by red textured bark seemed to be rough to the touch. As we continued down the trail, we arrived at what we had come here to see in the first place: The Grizzly Giant. A tree with such girth and density that it seemed to have a gravitational pull of its own. Or maybe that was just me, being pulled towards it due to its magnetic qualities. I noticed a charred and scorched layer to the front of the bark. The rest of the sequoia seemed to be textured but with a sense of smoothness to it. The tree itself was prodigious and it seemed to have an aura emanating from it. The tree evoked so much emotion within me that I even decided to write a poem about it. After around thirty minutes spent by the tree, the group decided they had seen enough and bid farewell. We arrived back at the cabin where we ate a dinner of burgers and played games such as Pictionary and B.S. (a card game). After some fun, we found ourselves to be tuckered out and went to bed.
The next morning I had to wake up early, seeing as my group was in charge of making the meals for the day. We prepared breakfast as a whole; I scrambled eggs and heated up tortillas so we could make breakfast burritos, another group member made bacon, a third made avocado toast, and the last member made everything look nice. After everyone ate the meal we arranged, we all drove to a river where we rested and hung out. Card games were played, snacks were enjoyed, and small hikes were experienced. Seeing as the afternoon was somewhat uneventful, we were not prepared for what the evening had in store for us. As we arrived back at the cabin, our group prepared dinner. We savored steak, mashed potatoes, and brussel sprouts. Prepared for a relaxed evening as well, we began to settle in in the lounge as we digested our food. As the forecast had predicted, a slight drizzle set in. We thought nothing of it until it began to rain more heavily, white noise to our conversations. Nobody was bothered by it, nor did we pay much attention to it until it demanded our attention. Soon, the power shut off due to the rain. We were embraced by darkness, as the sun had fully set by now. As we fastened flashlights and headlamps to the ceiling fans, thunder was roaring in the distance, and lightning crashed down in a glorious fashion, giving true illumination to the room—something our scattered headlamps couldn’t do. Wind howled, and rain collided with our windows. Bedtime was early this night because our planned activities couldn’t be fulfilled.
As I awoke on Friday, a sense of dread filled my body. I was leaving Yosemite, the land of isolation and beauty. As we groggily packed up our possessions, we all seemed to feel a sort of looming sadness. We began to leave Yosemite; our car motors were the only sound breaking the tranquility of the park. We traveled back along treacherous and winding mountain roads, through barren plains, and over sizable hills until we arrived home. We were back, and although we had left Yosemite, the memory of Yosemite will never leave us.