Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The past three summers we have spent some time in various mountains and realizing that we love to hike and climb. In 2004, we hiked the beautiful Tatras mountains in Zakopane, Poland. In 2005, we wandered the less lofty, but very misty Wicklow mountains in Ireland. In 2007, we were 2 of few gaijin as we climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan. In 2008, we hiked around Denali National Park in Alaska. And last summer we spent some fantastic days in the Canadian Rockies near Banff. We sensed a pattern and related to those fun times, Beth has set a goal of visiting all the national parks in the U.S.
As we bought atlases and browsed the web, that sense of longing grew more and more acute as our parks knowledge grew and Ken Burns guided us through the history of the parks. We learned how they were created, I became one with John Muir to the point of beginning to grow my beautiful new beard and we gained an ever deeper appreciation of the work that went into getting them set aside.
Back in the day, not only were people strongly opposed to ‘wasting’ land, but logging, mining and hotel companies all did their damage to the early parks. The Tuolumne River was even dammed to provide water for San Francisco. Fortunately, as a nation, we came to our senses and started legitimately preserving these areas.
Beth and I have only shortened the list by 3, Denali, Haleakala and Mammoth Cave, so we’ve decided we have to visit more.