I missed the Sierras
Back in the days of my First Job Out Of School, when money was as scarce as my laboratory experience, my holidays away from work were spent on the cheap. I’d pack up some dehydrated food (in a bear canister), a sleeping bag, a tent and way too many changes of clothes and hike into the wilderness for a week. I traded frequent sightings of cars and people for a chance encounter with a family of grouse, a harem of mule deer, a surly brown bear or a rock-inhabiting pack of marmots. I’d read earthy books, finding it easy to relate to Frodo and Sam as they wandered ceaselessly through their Shire wilderness. Mostly I’d just take in the trees and marvel at the intact, self-sustaining ecosystem.
With the accumulation of laboratory — and later managerial — experience came the accumulation of wee amounts of disposable income. Backpacking in the Sierras gave way to backpacking in Europe and Central America. Still on a shoestring, I could finally afford airline tickets. Happily, I put many stamps into my passport.
Now I’m saving up to put dual-pane windows into the house (hopefully before winter!), so it’s back to cinching the proverbial purse strings. And to be honest, after several years of exploring different versions of wilderness, I missed the Sierras. When a last-minute opportunity to take a week off came up at work, I pulled my field guides off the shelf and prepped for a week spent between Yosemite and Mono Lake. I posted a few snapshots on flickr, if you’d like to check them out.
I wonder, though, which is the true face of Yosemite — the well-known scenic vistas or the construction, RVs and traffic found everywhere else? I’m reminded of the difference between San Francisco’s Pier 39 (the well-known scenic vista) and The Tenderloin (the hard life found everywhere else).