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Year in Yosemite: Closure - Explore

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Year in Yosemite: Closure

Yosemite fallen giantIn my very favorite mystery series, the heroine, a Ms. Maisie Dobbs, revisits every site and person she encountered in the solving of the crime. Psychic and able to take on the "energy" of a person or place, she does it as a form of closure, a way to lay the energy to rest. Now that we're leaving our Yosemite home in just six weeks, I find myself following her lead.

And so, days that should be filled with organizing and packing, often find me visiting my favorite places.

But unlike Maisie, I don't want to lay the energy to rest; I want to imprint it on my soul. That's because all the mysteries I solved while living here were of the internal kind. During our three-year stay, I learned more about myself than I had in the previous three decades.

So what's become sacred to me in the time that we've lived here? Here's my top ten:

1. Walking down Chilnualna Falls Road in Wawona to the Pioneer Village, across the Vermont-inspired covered bridge to the post office. It may not sound like much, but for three years I’ve done it almost daily, usually in the company of good friends.

2. Sentinel Dome. There is no hike in the park I cherish as much as this one. It’s short. It’s easy. The pay-off can’t be beat. A 360-degree view of Yosemite with Half Dome so close it feels like I can reach out and touch it.

3. The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Wawona exists as part of the park only because it lies right between the Grove and the Valley. To think that, for 3 years, I’ve lived four miles away from the largest living trees on the planet boggles my mind. I’m grateful.

4. You might laugh (or come enjoy), but I’ll miss the Saturday night summer BBQs at the Wawona Hotel followed by Tom Bopp on the piano and the barn dances at the Pioneer Village.

5. The south fork of the Merced River. To have a major river (by California standards) flow right by our home is a huge blessing. To sit by it for hours is a sheer blood pressure lowering delight.

Swinging bridge wawona
The Swinging Bridge in Wawona.

6. Swinging Bridge Trail. It’s the closest hike to our home (the trail passes right by us). At its end, the rushing waters of the South Merced pound over great blocks of granite best seen from the delicate looking swinging bridge that spans the river.

7. Mountain lions. Apparently we share our woods with three mountain lions. I’ve yet to see them (and hope to be in a car when I do), but knowing they’re our neighbors gives me a thrill.

8. Tunnel View. The name’s not much but the view can’t be beat. I’m willing to bet it’s the one OMG moment that visitors never forget. I won’t.

9. The Ahwanhee. Okay, the dining room of The Ahwanhee. Not that the hotel isn’t grand, but to me the dining room is one of the most beautiful dining spots on Earth. If I could afford it, I’d eat there every time I go to the Valley.

10. The drive from the south gate to Wawona. In three years, every single time I drive the four miles from the southern gate of the park to our village of Wawona, I think, “Pinch me, I get to live here.”

As we see friends and make our good-byes, people inevitably say, “You’ll be back.” Probably so, but only as tourists. Somehow it won’t be the same. 

South fork of the Merced River, winter.

South fork of the Merced River, summer.

Half Dome as seen from Sentinel Dome.

Images by Jon Jay.


In May 2009, while hiking in Yosemite National Park, long-time Los Angeles resident Jamie Simons turned to her husband and said, "I want to live here." Jamie and her family have since lived in the park. Check out all of her blog articles by clicking here.

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