The memories go on. I loved my time in Yosemite; not just there, but all of the places I experienced in my youth, from the grand national parks of the west to the smaller but no less wonderful county and city parks on the San Francisco peninsula, where I grew up. Heck, even the little creek that ran through our neighborhood in Redwood City was an endless source of exploration and discovery.
My life took a drastic turn just a few short years later, when I was badly injured in a car accident. Since then, mobility for me involves a wheelchair, or crutches and leg braces. Getting out into the wilderness is a lot more complicated. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but...hiking the Mist Trail on crutches? I’m not that tough! So I cherish those memories from my time spent in nature when I was young. These days, I’m lucky enough to live where I can gaze out my window at the Sierra Nevada mountains that I love so much. Looking at that beautiful view, I know that nature is waiting to bestow her endless gifts on anyone lucky enough to spend time outdoors.
Which brings me back to Yosemite Institute. I had not kept in touch — didn’t even know if they still existed — until about six years ago. I was reading an article in Sunset about outdoor education and an organization called NatureBridge, “formerly Yosemite Institute.” I got in touch and was welcomed with open arms. I was even treated to a tour of good old Crane Flat and the new National Environmental Science Center (NESC). Crane Flat has hardly changed in all these decades. Even the five-holer is still there, although no longer in use, thank goodness. You new folks over at the NESC don’t know what you’re missing!
So, to my friends at NatureBridge, a huge thank you for the awesome work you do. Here’s to the next 50 years!