Waking up in a bed is one of those luxuries that is often taken for granted along with being able to close the curtains or get up and have a rest room available for use. It had probably been about two months since I had slept in a bed and I relished this rare opportunity. We didn’t have much of a time constraint, even with the parks adjusted hours. Our plan for the day was to hike through Mariposa Grove, one of the first protected Sequoia groves and Franklins first opportunity to be able to see some of these giants in person.
Upon arrival, we once again came to an empty parking lot. There was a mile walk to the grove itself and we spent the time enjoying the solitude of walking through the forest. It was almost comical thinking about solitude in this area. If it had been any other week, we would have been surrounded by people, all trying to bask in the splendor of the giants. Today though, it was only Driessen/Driessen Co., the name I had coined for our exploits. Together we would escape back into the 1864, the year that this grove was first protected.
Mariposa Grove’s origin as protected land goes all the way back to Abraham Lincoln when he signed the Yosemite Grant Act which ceded the grove to California and prohibited private ownership and development. This was a turning point in conservation history, marking the first step taken to prevent deforestation from overtaking the area. I can’t imagine what would have happened to these magnificent ancients if Lincoln didn’t act as he did. His actions dominoed into Grant’s protection of Yellowstone and then the formation of National Parks.
As we hiked through the forest, I couldn’t help but feel humbled by the serenity that filled the area. I had been trying to learn the differences between all the pine cones and foliage of the different giants and pointed out all the differences in size and shape that each conifer possessed. Interestingly, the sequoias had the smallest cones out of all its brethren even though it produced the largest tree. Before we knew it, hours had passed and the sun was ready to set. I will always be amazed by how time seems nonexistent when I am out in nature. All that becomes important is that there is light to see with, not the minutes or hours that have been consumed.
That night we exited the north end of the park to go to Groveland where there was another supercharger. It’s a little further away but to be honest, a much more inviting town than Fish Camp. Finding an overlook to park at for the evening was no issue and the new moon led to an array of stars lighting the night. I should have gotten my camera out, but the moment was too perfect. We sat in the car and utilized the glass roof to stay warm and still enjoy the evening. If I could have one wish, it would be a way to adjust the tint of the roof making it crystal clear. That way it would be like lying outside under the universe.
For our last day, we planned on hiking up to Nevada Falls and hitting some of the John Muir Trail. Many people had advised us that this trail was not to be missed, even if it was one of the most popular. I just have to rub it in a little bit more though that as we got started, we realized that it was going to be just as empty as the rest of the park! Not a month earlier, still during Covid, one of my other cousins had hiked the trail and warned me about the crowds. To think that it would be easy this day to forget that people existed.
While on this hike, I couldn’t keep my mind from dwelling on the meaning of purpose, specifically what is mine, if any. When I started this journey, I felt like it was to educate people on the feasibility and reliability of traveling in electric vehicles. I had accomplished that, even if it didn’t quite make the impact that I may have thought it would. What meaning was there in continuing my project? Traveling more would only compound upon what I had already done so what was my goal now?
I had reached the top of Nevada Falls and I was still trying to find an answer to my question. The only thing I could come up with was “to live”. This lead me to analyzing if living was really the same as being alive, and I decided that it wasn’t. I had been alive my entire life but I had only recently started living. Before my travels, I had assumed the role that I think most people take in life, that of simply thinking about surviving to the next day without much purpose. Sleep, work, tv, music, sleep. Rinse and repeat day after day. But now, every day seems like a new life and I relish in the spontaneity of discovery. Getting off the road and having a home, it sounds comfortable and it sounds easy, but I feel like assuming a life like that again would feel like dying.
A bit later, we took the opportunity to make our own trail and climb some rocks. It seemed so easy to discover something new and I thought about how two years ago I wouldn’t have been able to physically accomplish what I now did every day. A feeling of pride swept over me when I thought about how much I had changed, how much I had grown. I was unrecognizable from my old self.
Was that even me?
I don’t think it was. It was a shell of a being that wanted to be something but didn’t want to find the strength to be anything. That person either never truly existed or had died when I went on the road. A phoenix had risen from the ashes and with that thought I was content for the rest of the trek.
That was our last evening at Yosemite and driving away left a surreal feeling. A perfect trip had become something that would never be repeatable and we didn’t know if we would ever want to come back. The lack of crowds had almost ruined any return for us, knowing that in the future we would be fighting for space with thousands of people.
That makes this trip even more special though, knowing that it can’t be recreated. A gem in my life that encompassed an escape from the turmoil of the world.
Closest Supercharger Groveland 47.3mi
11875 Ponderosa Ln, Groveland, CA 95321