By Sheyna Holmes
The bus explodes with laughter and chatter as we depart for Yosemite National Park. I sit in a crowd of unfamiliar faces that are destined to become friendly and familiar ones. As we putt along, our bus chases countless rainbows that crane over highways and peek over rolling hills. After roughly nine hours of playing games, eating, and trying to sleep, we arrive in Curry Village where cabins are waiting for us.
The morning reveals fresh and untouched snow that rounds and softens everything in sight. Throughout the course of the trip, we manage to hike, snow shoe, cross-country ski, and even crawl through caves. We soak up every sight while hiking through the valley and are grateful to be in the moment with no stress or responsibilities. As I hike I observe snow dolloped on charcoal colored rocks and snowflakes lightly swirling through the air. Our first challenge is to crawl on our knees and shuffle on our backs through pitch black spider caves. I wiggle and shift through tiny spaces and trust the person in front of me to warn me about what is ahead.
After a night of angry snow bombs on our roof, we map out our plans to reach the Muir Cabin in the Merced Grove. A bus drops us off at the trail head and we begin to blaze our own trail using snow-shoes to reach the cabin that is a mile and a half away. Everything is an untouched winter wonderland. The trees arch over from the weight of the snow and appear like figures out of a Dr. Seuss book. All ten of my toes go numb and I feel like I’m walking on nubs. As dusk approaches us, we reach the cabin with burning thighs and hunger in our stomachs. We make ourselves at home and sleep on the bare wood floor.
We awake the next morning with sore ribs and hips and are notified that all the roads are closed. This means we have to hike eight miles back to our new camp at Crane Flat. We begin our trek with determination and bellies full of oatmeal. After hiking for three hours, we receive good news that the head Chef at Crane Flat is coming to rescue us. We are taken back to Crane Flat where we receive the best night of sleep yet.
We spend the last day cross-country skiing and enjoying the simplicity of life. On this trip, all social cliques united, clocks became insignificant, and dependency on electronics dissipated. I realized how small I am in the grand scheme of things, but what I do can negatively change the big picture. I learned to be less wasteful and leave no trace of myself in the wilderness. The unfamiliar faces turned to familiar and I returned home with total relaxation, unforgettable experiences in my memory, and a new mind set.