Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.
Who: Sue Fierston (the author) and her daughter, Rose Berman, of Montgomery Village, Md.
Where, when, why: Last winter when it was so cold in Washington, I thought that it would be dreamy to escape to Yosemite to take a class in wildflower identification. Environmentalist John Muir’s sunny summer in the Sierra was definitely calling, so we went to Yosemite National Park July 7-14.
Highlights and high points: Our class took place at White Wolf, up on Tioga Road, at 8,000 feet. To adjust to the altitude gradually, we spent a few days at a lodge lower down, near the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir on the north side of the park. The road to Hetch Hetchy is a single tar lane, unlined and full of hairpin turns. Last year’s Rim Fire burned all this land, and the road winds through charred tree trunks and bare rock glittering in the sun. Around every turn and across every valley, as far as we could see (when my eyes weren’t glued to the road!), the forest was gone and the land was burned. Hetch Hetchy was a miniature Yosemite Valley, albeit one filled with water: The profile of a lookalike El Capitan, the famous Yosemite rock formation, was reflected in the cool green lake.
Cultural connection or disconnect: Rose was totally off the grid for the first time. As a college student, she wasn’t so sure that she wanted to be without her phone for so many days. (I was looking forward to it.) But camping at White Wolf and the class left her no downtime to miss the phone, and she came away saying that being offline was “no big deal.”
Biggest laugh or cry: Muir was opposed to filling Hetch Hetchy Valley with water because of its similarity to Yosemite Valley. On the spur of the moment, we made a flier and tucked it into one of the signs on the dam. It said: “Drain Hetch Hetchy! — John Muir.” We hurried away, peeking back around the corner to check, and someone was already reading it! Giggling, we ran up the trail, feeling as if we had (briefly) hoisted the flag for removing the dam.
How unexpected: The astounding flower-filled meadows at Lukens Lake left us speechless. Waist-high violet lupines, delicate mariposa lilies and knee-high shooting stars left us no room to walk.
Fondest memento or memory: Our class was united in our love of flowers, and we spent each day out in the field examining their petals and stamens with magnifying glasses. Rose and I shared my new Belomo triplet 10x lens. Each time we used the lens, it revealed a different magical and intricate world that we hadn’t known was there.
To tell us about your own trip, go to www.washingtonpost.com/travel and fill out the What a Trip form with your fondest memories, finest moments and favorite photos.