I have just come back from a very amazing few days in California. I had been invited over by the Green Spa Network as their keynote speaker at their eighth annual congress. I will be writing a separate blog about this event in the coming days, and including the two interviews which were recorded.
The congress was being held at Tanaya Lodge. The main congress started on Sunday evening, with an opening ceremony for all participants. But there was an additional option to arrive early on the Friday evening, and take part in two hikes, the first along the valley floor, and the second up on the ridges where the views were spectacular.
On Saturday we were joined by Yosemite ranger Shirley Spencer, who was an absolutely fantastic guide for us, sharing her infectious enthusiasm, experiences, stories and knowledge. A ranger has to be incredibly knowledgeable in every aspect of the national park, for they never know what a visitor may ask or what the situation may require.
I was quite taken aback by Shirley’s depth of knowledge as well as breadth, and she is also the author of a number of books including the beautifully illustrated Flowering Shrubs of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada.
In order to protect this area of outstanding natural beauty from commercial development, a park bill was passed in 1864 by Abraham Lincoln, an incredible act of foresight, leading the way for the creation of national parks of which Yellowstone became the first.
While there were some European locations selected as areas of natural protection, it was only the upper classes who were able to enter them, as opposed to the American concept of the national park with area to all. This was a great contribution to society, of which other countries would follow decades later.
Of course Yosemite is one of the top locations in the world for rock climbing, and it is only really when you are there in person that you can gain an idea of the scale and insane difficulty of some of the climbs.
The photo below was taken using full zoom from where I was standing to take the photo above, and shows the Washington Column, often one of climbers’ first-time big climbs.
During the congress, Larry Prochazka showed this incredibly inspirational video featuring some of the world’s top climbers and I can really recommend watching it, to show just how impossibly seeming acts are in fact possible.
It has been a dream of mine to visit Yosemite for many many years, and on Sunday all I could feel was a deep gratitude for being able to be there, atop of Sentinel Dome, 8122 feet altitude, where there was a 360 degree panoramic view.
Here is the video I took from this point:
And here is the climb down:
And of course it was absolutely great to be able to meet both the Green Spa Network board and team, and also a number of their members before the main congress, where we could share quality time meeting each other and finding out more about each person individually.
So yes, what an incredible experience to be in Yosemite, especially as there was also the lunar eclipse which happened just half an hour or so after our opening ceremony back at the lodge.
I do feel that I should let you know that while I love to explore, I am not so intrepid as a climber, and I should probably mention that in that photo of me at the start, there is a footpath behind me – I’m just a few feet off the ground. It’s just that with a little judicious playing with the camera angle, you may get a slightly different impression of exactly where I was 🙂