I do agree.
To See A Park
By Tyra Olstad
Here’s a secret—when you visit a National Park, from Yellowstone to Yosemite, Big Bend to Little Bighorn, instead of trying to see and do as much as possible, filling that urge to go! Do! Drive every road! Stop at every point! Prowl the Visitor Center, attend a ranger talk! Hike! Walk, trek, crawl-if-you-have-to along the trails, over the peaks, into the wilderness! Instead, wherever you go, when you get to a National Park, sit.
Find a good bench or a rock or a tree or a spot on the soft earth itself and sit. Sit and watch, sit and listen, sit and think until you stop thinking and begin to absorb something of the wildness, the history, the beauty around you.
It’s a hard-earned secret. When I first discovered National Parks (America’s Wonderlands!) I was frantic to see everything, to be sure not to miss anything. I had to read the signs at every scenic overlook. Had to hike every path. Wider, farther, higher, longer, I had to go, gasping for more. It was even worse when I began working at parks. I wanted to see every inch of backcountry, witness every sunrise, sunset, storm. I wanted to know every rock and meet every bird, be able to name every species and tell every tale. I was always going, moving, looking; insatiable.
Last spring, when I took a job at Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado, I hated it at first. I was coming from a land of wide open skies and spare, subtle scenery and wasn’t used to or tolerable of dramatic chasms, much less scrub oak and serviceberry. I tried to acquaint myself with the new place the only way I knew how: perpetual motion. For weeks, I was always out walking—before work, after work, during work, driving, hiking, getting tips on what to do and what to see. On the weekends, I slipped and slid down primitive “routes” to the river, where I paused to marvel at the canyon’s sheer depth and verticality before turning and scrambling back up to the rim. Farther, deeper, darn it. I was going to learn to love that park.
Then one evening, after about a month of frenetic activity, I went out for my usual sunset walk and, a few miles out, realized how tired I was. A rock beckoned. I sat. I sat and watched light skitter through the sky and catch on craggy walls. Sat and watched birds swoop and dart overhead; sat and listened to their calls echo from below. Sat and listened to the river rush and burble on through the canyon into which it had cut.
That was the secret. Suddenly I saw the place—really saw it, got it, believed in, and understood why it’s a national park, a national treasure. And I realized that my favorite park moments always involve sitting—one particular overlook at Petrified Forest, one bend of a trail at Badlands, out under the stars at Canyonlands, deep in a grove at Muir Woods—sitting. The trick is to sit. Not to talk or take photographs or read signs. Just to sit, actually see a place, give it a moment to reveal its mystery, its magic.
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