I was overwhelmed to be back to such a historic and majestic park surrounded by tall elegant trees that were covered in a faded blanket of snow. It was surreal. There were birds singing happily in the distance, unaware of my friends and me, the new intruders. The soft caress of the breeze warned us of a chilly starry night. I couldn’t help, but smile. I knew that difficult challenges lay ahead, but I also knew that it would be a very rewarding weekend at Yosemite National Park.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
As I talked to Sarah, the Adventure Risk Challenge (ARK) representative a couple days earlier, my tummy was beginning to feel queasy. To me, hiking to the top of Yosemite Falls was a challenge and my mind wasn’t making it any easier. As I tried to get my stomach settled, my mind was running wildly through my nightmares visiting every single one that had to do with me falling to my death. It was absurd I know, but I couldn’t help it. My imagination had gone lose.
When the big weekend finally came, I was so nervous I shook like a shake weight. I was pretty animated though. As we arrived to our cabin located in Wawona in Yosemite National Park, we were met by other ARK representatives and participants from Tahoe (ARK is an organization located in Merced, Tahoe/Truckee, and San Francisco that brings students together to learn literacy, leadership, and life skills. Amazing adventures in different locations in California are used to achieve those goals. Some ARK representatives pair up with other ARK representatives, like we did with Tahoe, to make experiences more unique and for students to make new friends).
The day after we arrived, we arose early for breakfast, a team building activity, and packing. Around 9a.m. we left Wawona for Yosemite Falls. As we arrived the environment was sensational! The luscious green trees were magnificent and the people were just so friendly. That really helped to ease my nerves. After our big group was divided in two, we finally took off on our long hike. I was really impressed by the quietness and peacefulness that emerged from our surroundings and enfolded us. All my nerves and fears were quickly long forgotten.
About two hours later, the heat was getting to me and I was becoming tired; however, I knew that I had to keep going. As the leader of my group it was my responsibility to lead and encourage them.
What felt like an eternity, we finally heard the powerful roaring waters of the fall. After hiking for a couple minutes more I became speechless. The grand and famous Yosemite Falls was only a few feet away from me and I had not fallen to my death, yet. I felt accomplished for overcoming a major fear.
ARK really has changed me. I am a better public speaker, I am more social, and my writing skills are much better. The hike to Yosemite Falls really changed me too. Although the long steep hike was exhausting, I found myself being encouraged and believed in. It was quite a unique experience, and I now know I am capable of much more than I thought. This adventure, that I never thought I would be brave enough to do, really was an eye opener.
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