“Not all those who wander are lost” ~J. R. R. Tolkien
“I didn’t tell my heart to beat; I didn’t tell my eyes to see.” ~Ron Kauk, Yosemite rockclimber I listened to, on the wonder of all nature, including the wonder he has of himself.
More from that rockclimber, paraphrased (poorly):
I think of rockclimbing like yoga, or a martial art. I’m trying to relax and even out my breaths, to be more fluid and graceful. Sometimes I just admire the rock before I climb it–each one is like a work of art. It’s not about being competitive, or how fast I get to the top. It’s about perfecting each move, about finding a better way to get to the rock through the woods; it’s about the process, about being logical, having “common sense”, and learning to survive and protect yourself.
We are related to everything. We all need the same things: air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat.
The days are shorter in the winter; maybe it’s nature’s way of telling us to slow down and take it easier for a while.
I learned something valuable in Yosemite that I’m applying to life in San Francisco: Don’t feed the bears. Or in my case, beggars. Almost every major intersection in San Francisco has at least 1 beggar with a cardboard sign. I’ve been contemplating, since I moved here, the best approach to take with them. On one hand, my first instinct is always to help someone in need. But I’ve been bitten more than once. A beggar will mistake friendliness with generosity, for example, and expect something from you, or sometimes they will be rude when you decline to help when you’ve already given them help days or weeks before.
I would go broke handing a dollar out at every intersection, and there are a million other justifications for not giving hand-outs. But I like the way the park rangers look at the bear feeding problem: If a bear learns there may be food in a car, they will be more likely to approach it, and occasioinally they will become violent and will have to be put down. So park visitors are required to keep all food in bear-proof boxes. The bears go back to hunting berries and are discouraged from the easy food finds.
I like to think of the beggar situation the same way. It’s not like we are living in a third-world country with no government or infrastructure for the homeless and downtrodden. These people have resources they should be taking advantage of, yet they are choosing to beg on the streets. I try to put myself in the position of someone who is forced to beg for money, and I just can’t imagine the scenario in which our system would fail someone so badly that that was their only option for survival. Please correct me if this is generally not the case.
Beggars seem to me to be like bears that have left the woods for the campgrounds in search of easier food targets. And giving handouts just encourages them to come around more often, and to be more and more aggressive with their demands. The difference between human beggars and bears is that humans have agreed to be bound by laws against hurting or killing someone for resources, wheras the bears aren’t intellectually burdened by the consequence of jail time or death, so we have to take more precautions with bears than with human beggars.
Anyway, we’ll see how long my beggars as bears theory holds up in real-life.
Yosemite Falls, 6/3/07 by CMC
Click Here for Slideshow of Day 2 in Yosemite
Today I hiked to the top of North America’s tallest waterfall: Yosemite Falls. I was very proud of my climb today (almost 8 miles round-trip, with hundreds of switchbacks) and thanked my grandma Ruth for the rock-climbing and hiking genes! Afterward, I rewarded myself with a plunge into the icy cold river below. I found the perfect spot to dive in, swam across the river, and back.
On strenuous hikes like this is when the city disappears. Almost everyone you meet or pass on the trail says hello and offers words of encouragement. None of the busy callousness and rudeness of city life, just people at their best, trying to reach a common goal, and helping each other through it.
Nevada Falls, I hiked there (see trail zig-zagging?) 6/2/07
View my slideshow from Yosemite Day 1
Thoughts from my 10.5 mile hike today:
The trail I was on had very long, steep uphill sections and nice long downhill sections. I wondered, is it better to love the downhill parts and hate the uphill parts, or to be even-keeled throughout the journey? I think I concluded that loving & being grateful and happy during the downhill made the uphill easier to bear, because you had the memory of happiness to remind you that not all is bad. Pictures coming soon…
Also, what I realized I love about hiking is the smell of the mountains. The awesome sights are to be appreciated, but the smell of the air is what takes the trip to another level of enjoyment.
Now for smores & fire.