At some point, often when you are young, you may experience nature in a way that moves you and fills you with pure joy and comfort. This moment revisits throughout your life and will bring a sense of home.
For many people this happens when overwhelmed by the vastness of the ocean and they feel pure calm to watch the waves wrestle on the beach.
For me, however, I feel this when surrounded by mountains and trees. The crisp air and jutting rocks fill my soul with peace. I think the most profound of all moments occur when I am at high elevation and surrounded in a canopy of trees, preferably deciduous.
We are mountain people, and to the mountains we feel called to go.
The ocean is beautiful and we truly appreciate getting to know it’s wonder, but we felt constantly called to the mountains. This never let up or lessened, bringing us to the point of this move, to settle closer into where we belong.
So we set off, leaving the beach and starting our trip at one of the most inspirational places I know on this great earth, Yosemite National Park. We drove the back way into the valley at midnight, taking mountain turns with care again and again until the outlines of El Capitan greeted us into to the valley floor.
I awoke to the wind rustling through the trees, with brief glimpses of the massive Half Dome peeking through behind them. I felt a surge of elation and empowerment which was swiftly replaced with feeling unsettled, nervous, and anxious.
Why do I feel foreign in an area I have so loved and known before?
My nervousness was temporarily soothed as I gave myself time to sit and stare into the leaves of the trees. Watching the needles blow in the wind, jostled back and forth, I slowly felt myself unwind a little. Still, though, the restlessness and anxiety remained.
Before leaving on this trip, I kept noting that I needed a little more time to get everything done and finished. There were so many things to complete, people to see, letters to write. I felt very rushed and that I hadn’t had time to really finish up in Solana Beach. Everything happened so quickly and there was little time to process.
Because of my recent commitment to yoga teacher training, I had forfeited my weekends and had not spent any time in the wilderness since the beginning of the year. I had been city-locked, which has only happened a few times since I committed myself to nature some 6 years ago. With the beach nearby, the joy of learning yoga, and running again, I was able to sustain my city time and felt pretty great. Now being in wilderness, however, I felt a jolt of uncertainty and impending doom.
This is the uncomfortable feeling that occurs when you are stuck in one environment too long. It is so important to keep my balance of wilderness and city life, to move freely between them. Now I was going to need a period of adjustment.
I expressed this to my partner and we decided to go “sit at a climber’s beach”. We took our beach chairs to El Capitan Meadows to stare in wonder at this peak in all his glory.
With El Cap in front and the Cathedral Spires behind (see above), we drank coffee, chatted, chilled and began really unwinding.
Clouds threatening rain came in and out of the sun’s light in the same way my mood shifted between relief of letting go and fear of the unknown.
One day of trees and mountains and I felt months of stress beginning to lift. I was, however, still feeling anxious and unsettled, but with improvement.
As the winds blow the water of Yosemite Falls, I too felt flung unsteadily through the air.
Delaying our climbing plans due to my feeling unsettled and fatigued, we instead hiked further to Mirror Lake.
While many more moments of unwinding and processing were to come, I felt as I had in past transitions: It is hard and uncomfortable to change, but I know this is where I belong and will soon feel at ease.
Then I finally started to feel more and more like “myself”. We began having more fun, playing with the camera and doing yoga poses in fun spots.
Enjoying our first day back in the wilderness, we let loose and laughed. We are back where we belong.