My Journey, Chapter 3: Exploring the Backyard

I have been learning so much these past couple of weeks in Yosemite, gaining valuable experience in the field and knowledge from my coworkers. On my days off, however, I have been astonished by the breathtaking views Yosemite Valley day hikes offer. I started my exploration this summer, exploring my backyard trails that are nearby, which have led me to some amazing places.

One of my first hikes was to Mirror lake/Snow Creek, which was relaxing and peaceful. It was a gradual incline or flat terrain for the most part, and there was plenty of wildlife to observe. At one point I was completely isolated by the creek, watching a Great Blue Heron fish. It almost felt like I was by a stream back home, where my parents would take me as a kid and teach me to ride my bike nearby. I was in the same spot for about 30 minutes and finally looked through the canopy to realize I was in place where granite mountains surrounded the peaceful stream, and I was a long distance from where I learned to ride a bike.

My love for the outdoors has been growing since I was child trying to learn how to ride a bike, and being in the other side of country is only making it grow more every day. Reflecting back on this hike made me realize how connecting to nature can happen in a suburban town in Long Island, New York, or a wilderness area in Yosemite National Park, as long as you take the time to look and appreciate what’s around you. Another amazing hike in the valley was Nevada Falls. It is a steep incline hike of 2000 feet, with probably the most scenic trail I have been on.

You cross several waterfalls along the way with amazing views. There is somewhat of a summer crowd on the trail because it is one of more popular trails in Yosemite Valley, but it was nice seeing so many people appreciate nature. On my way down, I was doing some birding and heard some big steps in leaf litter above me, so I went up a couple of feet and saw a bear on the trail. It was my first time seeing a bear while not working, so I was excited. However, the bear was walking towards two tourists taking photos, so I told them how they should look big and scream at it so it would go away. They were a bit shocked that the bear was just staring at them, so I decided to show them how it’s done. The bear ran away off the trail into the wilderness. On our way down, I educated them on how to manage bear encounters, and this showed me firsthand how education is such an important tool in dealing with wildlife interactions. Exploring my backyard has been a blast so far, and I can’t wait to keep exploring.

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