I am a plaineer by birth and choice. I have always lived in the plains and always felt worried if the street loomed out of my vision. Let us just say that if driving bothered me, driving in Bangalore was my death wish. So like there are mountaineers, there are Plaineers. I can walk long distances as long as the degree of motion remains at 0. This I realize everyday walking to the bus up to Hollywood Blvd from Sunset Blvd.
So it should come as no surprise that I was not keen the trek from Glacier Point to Yosemite Valley at the famous Yosemite National Park, where we camped. While thinking of camping, I was picturing a cool river flowing nearby, a comfortable tent, a camp like shower, an intriguing book, etc. The image was quite vivid in my mind. I got the river and the tent; but instead of resting, we decided to trek. The first day we pitched the tent and went to see the giant sequoia trees. Well, they ARE big. But that’s about it. So while I was wondering what the big deal was-I realised that I have something else that would perplex me. It is this – what is accomplished by a treacherous trek that didn’t allow you to look at the surrounding scenery. But I wouldn’t know till the next day. So after seeing the giants, we went back, made a fire, made smores and lots of fun. The next thing was a trek. There were three options – 4,8 and 16 miles. I was quite prepared for a 4 mile trek, but I had to go along with the non-trekically challenged friends for the 8 mile trek down the mountains. We saw 2 waterfalls and a rainbow and some very good aerial shots. But the rest of the time I just saw the stones in front of my feet. The scenery is lost on me as all I can remember is the white rocks jutting out on a make-believe path that led to the valley.
There were times I wanted to just sit it out and wait for a bear to eat me, so I wouldn’t have to torture myself with an uphill trek (in a trek that was promised to be all downhill). My legs are proof that it was more than 8 miles. There were no signs, no rescue staff, no personnel and no restrooms. Ofcourse, its a trek you will say. But this is America – those are basic rights here. We kept at the winding path with rocks and slippery stones till we reached the bottom, only to see the river go further into the valley. And the next descent began. Thus we trotted on till we were unable to speak or even look around. It was one of the never ending nightmares, which you knew would not go away even when you wake up. In the heights of the Yosemite mountains, I learnt that I would never know what could motivate a nature lover to look at rocks that threaten to kill you for 7 hours. Many things in this country I feel are hyped and marketed and are built to a larger than life experience. Most of the times it leaves you with a feeling of being swindled..but at least there is something that makes the whole experience worthwhile – the side attractions, the facilities, the drive, the food…something. Unfortunately, for an American attraction, Yosemite isn’t that pretty.