I am always searching for that awe-moment, the feeling you get when you're surrounded by life and beauty and you can't possibly do anything but stare, open-mouthed and inspired by the world around you. I had heard of the grandeur of the peaks in California. I had watched Free Solo and read some of the writings of John Muir. But no footage or passage could prepare me for how it would feel to be among these granite giants.
There has to be a word for this phenomenon, the sudden knowledge of and appreciation for your part in the ecosystem. The feeling when everything else around you seems "too big" and you are aware of your smallness, a piece of a much larger puzzle. The word "awe" just doesn't seem to cover it.
One of these moments happened as I laid over the edge of a 3,500 foot cliff near Taft Point in Yosemite National Park. This area is full of cliffs and beautiful overlooks, but this one drew me in. While most of the people went left, I veered right to explore a huge gorge. A waterfall cascaded across from me through trees that gripped the rock. I tried looking down the chasm while standing, but only after laying down and peering carefully over the rock was I able to see the bottom. Below me, clear water continued to plummet through its self-made oasis. Large black ravens soared above the water, and I had to remind myself that what I was seeing was real. This wasn't CGI or virtual reality but reality at its finest. Life filled the soil, the trees, and the sky, and in its presence, I also felt alive.
Most of the photos below are from the Taft Point overlook and a few are from other areas of the park including Yosemite Falls and Sentinel Dome.
(f you're interested in visiting this beautiful place yourself, go to Taft Point in Yosemite and veer right when you get the main overlook area. I didn't find the other people there too numerous or distracting, so I definitely recommend it).