Tired and burned out from work, a trip to Yosemite allowed one intrepid traveler time to relax, to reconnect to his self, and to heal his body and soul.
Spending time in nature can have a profound effect on you. The fact that being outdoors is beneficial to your health has been proven on countless occasions. However, people rarely make the effort to go into the country and breathe in some fresh air.
Modern life is hectic and often stressful, so we’re left with very little time for ourselves. But…
There comes a moment when you simply can’t take it anymore and need to turn things around.
I experienced that on my last trip to the United States when I made a move that thoroughly changed how I look at life: I took a trip to an absolutely magical place. It was just what I needed.
Stress Was Behind It All
Before we get into greater detail, allow me to paint a picture for you first. I had been working for about three years without a vacation, with business trips taking me pretty much all over the world. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore traveling, but business trips take their toll on you.
Stress had been piling up for quite some time, so finally when my business took me to California, I decided I needed a break after my meetings. I cancelled all my appointments for the next week without really knowing what I was going to do during that time.
All I knew was that I needed to stop for a moment and catch my breath.
I’d had enough of the cities, and the Pacific coast seemed too crowded. But after a bit of Googling I found the perfect destination: Yosemite!
Getting to Know the Valley
It took me only a couple of pictures to realize that a trip here is exactly what I needed. Untouched and magnificent nature combined with not too many people seemed like a guarantee of peace and quiet, so I booked a lodge right in front of the national park, rented a car, and left San Francisco ready to start the adventure I so desperately needed.
As I was approaching the lodge, I could feel a strange mixture of excitement and serenity washing over me.
I checked in, threw my bag into my room, locked the door, then went outside to take in a deep breath of the pristine air that was permeating the area. It was getting late, and I was tired from my long trip, but just the look of the hills in front of me was worth it. Tomorrow was going to be a very special day, indeed.
After breakfast, my hosts pointed me towards Tunnel View, a place from which an incredible view of Yosemite Valley opens up in front of you. Indeed, the place is quite magnificent, but there were quite a few people there, so after a short while I moved on towards Yosemite Village, a quaint little place with a bunch of museums and a visitor center. After taking a look at the exhibits, I sat down for lunch in the local restaurant, worried that this could turn out not to be what I had expected. The whole place was a bit too touristy and I couldn’t find any peace and quiet. Fortunately, I overheard two guys in the restaurant talking about the Four Mile Trail. A quick Google search convinced me that this trail needed to be my next destination.
Four Miles of Serenity
As soon as I set foot on the Four Mile Trail, I knew I had found the perfect place for me. There was nobody else on the trail; I felt I had the smell of the forest and the heat of the sun all for myself. It was pure bliss!
As I climbed, a spectacular view of the valley opened up in front of me and I realized I was now on the opposite side of Tunnel View. But the sight felt different this time, somehow more magnificent. The forest below seemed to be stretching on forever and the mountains framing the view were awe-inspiring witnesses of the power of nature. By that point I’d completely forgotten about all the stress and problems.
There was only that moment and that incredible scenery.
It took me about two hours to finish the trail, but it was more than worth it. I encountered some people going down the trail back to the village, but it never got crowded and there was an abundance of serenity all around me every step of the way.
The trek ended at Glacier Point, another location with an incredible view. There were more people here because a shuttle operates regularly between this point and the rest of the national park, so after a while I rode it back to the village, hopped in my car, and went back to the lodge. I was tired, but it was that good kind of fatigue. I slept like a baby that night — the best sleep I’d had in months.
A Morning in the Sun
The following morning, after another hearty breakfast, I set off to find some more hiking trails. With some instructions from my hosts, I found one of the least frequented paths in the park and set off. After a while, I came across a small rocky hill. I climbed it, sat down, took out my thermos bottle, and poured myself some coffee. Again, with the forest all around me, the birds chirping and the sun shining, I felt like I was in another world.
As I spent hours just gazing at the horizon, for the first time in years, I had the chance to seriously think about my life goals. The stress was almost completely gone at this point and my head was perfectly clear. I thought long and hard about my family back home, my work, and the way I approached it all.
My conclusion was that there is so much more to life than work.
The place I was at was a vivid example of that, so I decided that taking this kind of trip more often was definitely going to become a priority. It simply felt like the right thing to do for both my mind and my body.
The rest of the day was nothing but pure enjoyment. After another lunch at the village, I roamed around a bit and then went back to the lodge to enjoy the pool. And I can’t really explain it, but everything somehow felt better, brighter from then on, as if all my senses suddenly opened and were able to completely take in the world around me. I was able to appreciate the wonders in this national park even more from that day forward.
As the days moved on, I kept exploring Yosemite. The beauty of the place is really hard to describe in words; you simply have to see and experience it all yourself. The majestic mountains humble you, making you feel small, and the waterfalls they hide are breathtaking. Simply put, nature doesn’t get any more magnificent than this.
Combine that physical majesty with the people that work here, who are always extremely friendly and helpful, and you get pretty much the best vacation you can imagine. When my visit was nearing its end, I felt that both my mind and my body had been rejuvenated. It was all I could ever hope for from an adventure like this. I was ready to take on the world again.
A Change for the Better
It has been about three years since my trip to Yosemite, and I’ve made it a rule to make a trip like that every three or four months. That way I get to enjoy all the seasons. Sometimes I take my family along, sometimes I take my friends, and they all love it every single time. I firmly believe time spent in nature is something every person needs…
…to simply chill out, become closer with nature, and just marvel at it from time to time.
For me, a trip to Yosemite turned out to be a great decision in every possible sense. However, if California is too far away from you, there are areas and parks of natural splendor all over this country — and indeed, the world. I’ve discovered many fantastic places and incredible national parks in Europe (honestly, put some effort into it and try to visit the closest one when you travel; you won’t be sorry).
If you’re working hard and are at the end of your rope, give it a shot. For your sake and the sake of those around you — nobody wants to see you snap. Nature is the perfect remedy for modern life — for your body, mind and soul.
They don’t say “stop and smell the roses” for nothing!
You may also enjoy reading Togetherness Redefined: A Family’s Story of Life on The Road by Celeste Orr