The road less traveled…
In the past four days, I have hiked over 25 miles at elevations exceeding 10,000 feet in the beautiful backcountry of Yosemite National Park. That distance is the equivalent of a marathon, but while carrying a 50 pound backpack of essentials needed to sustain life in the rugged and sometimes unforgiving backcountry of Yosemite.
Here, in this sacred place, a group of ten strangers plus two instructors came together to realize a dream and cultivate self awareness and appreciate nature’s beauty in its most virgin state. We left this experience as friends bonded with an eternal gift.
We were engrossed as a team in learning to survive in the backcountry and off the grid…driven to forge ahead in search of drinking water…Water to sustain our journey….taken from narrowly running streams and dwindling alpine lakes replenished from snow melt in the spring.
We learned and practiced “leaving no trace” principles….Long calls, short calls and managing ladies’ holiday…bio bags, bear cans and packing out ALL trash. This imperative ‘LNT’ practice ensures the beauty of the land can be enjoyed by others visiting Yosemite after us.
In all, our Outward Bound group encountered less than ten other people along the trails throughout our journey in the park. Remote. Isolated. Rugged. Unspoiled beauty.
We learned to push-on despite physical and mental challenges that would seemingly prevent us from taking another step. We lifted each other, literally and figuratively, to find the strength to carry on.
Each day, when we thought we couldn’t take another step, our bodies fatigued, our minds weary, and our skin stained with sweat and dirt, we arrived safely at a camp location. We scouted suitable sites and set up camp together, cooked camp meals and broke bread as a family. Desperate for rest, we cocooned ourselves in our sleeping bags after our nightly meal. We slept without tents, under the stars (and sometimes raindrops) finding comfort and reassurance in the mere presence of our neighbor.
On day three, we found ourselves caught in a perilous spot. The group was caught in a thunderstorm at over 10,000 feet on a granite summit. Our fearless instructors swiftly and calmly coached us to safety.
Once we overcame this hurdle, the group decided to forge ahead to tackle an extra unanticipated two-mile ascent. This decision would boost moral and make ‘Solo’ on day four more enjoyable for all.
The quiet solitude of Yosemite allows for much contemplation and self realization. Each participant, unique in our background and life experience, has come away with a great sense of accomplishment. We have realized great physical challenges and emotional enlightenment. A beautiful, shared, yet individual, experience on a road less traveled….
“Outward Bound has helped people discover strength of character, the ability to lead, and the desire to serve for over 80 years.”
“We are now in the mountains, and they are in us.” – John Muir
Rebecca Weide, September 14, 2016
Rebecca just completed a five-day backpacking course in the wilderness of Yosemite National Park with a group of other adults from all over the nation. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Rebecca!
If you too would like to go on a course to discover new parts of the country or reinvigorate a part of yourself, check out our course finder.