In the Fall of 2015 I had the opportunity to take a trip out to Yosemite National Park. This was my first trip to a National Park so I was very excited to see all of the splendor I had only been able to appreciate through photos. When you need to get away for peace and quiet, I do not believe there is a better place to do that in than Yosemite.

Fortunately for me, I had a friend who was willing to introduce me to Yosemite to show me what he had been enjoying for years. With that in mind and the extreme need to “get away”, I planned my vacation and off I went. It was in Yosemite, Yosemite Creek to be exact, where I had my “first” experience in Bouldering.

What exactly is Bouldering? According to Merriam-Webster, Bouldering is “the sport of rock climbing on large boulders or low cliffs”. For me it meant freely climbing like I did as a kid. I was quite the little monkey in those days often found climbing a tree, climbing walls, sheds, and any other structure that I could scale. While exploring and hiking through Yosemite (my friend was hiking, I was surviving), we came across a very dry Yosemite Creek. Extending out before me was an expanse of boulders like I had never seen before.

And, there were people actually climbing over, between, and around these giant rocks, unbelievable. The urge was too great and I thought, when would I ever have this opportunity again? I surveyed the scene before me; I analyzed the placement of the boulders, their size, whether they had smooth or sharp edges, and started to plan my route. Because even though the joy of scaling those rocks was urging me to just start climbing, I knew I needed a way to get back. It was one thing to cross over as many rocks as I could and it was another thing to be able to make it back on my own.

At first, I moved through them rather quickly but things look a little different the closer you are to them so I had to readjust my route several times. I found out that having more than one way to get from point A to point B was very wise. I was able to jump down off of some of the larger boulders and was forced to literally shimmy my way over others. At times I had to backtrack just a bit to improve my vantage point and be able to mark a new clear path ahead. But, making my way through this rock maze was the most fun I had had in a long time. And during all of this, I was also able to take in the site of the mountain face in front of me and the amazing climbers making their way up the vertical face of the mountain. I made it at least three fourths of the way across the boulders and stopped just short of the face of the mountain. With dusk quickly approaching, I decided it was time to head back. I ended up taking slightly different paths back and the obstacles that these huge boulders presented, made the experience all that much more rewarding. When I was back on the trail, I looked back at the boulders and could hardly believe that I had just climbed so far out on those rocks and back – it was a good feeling. Bouldering was a First for me and one I will always remember.

Experiencing something for the first time gave me a raw, almost innocent appreciation for what I had just seen and accomplished. Sometimes that type of clarity is the most rewarding and enlightening.

You can find more of Pauline’s writing on her website