A First Time Visit to Yosemite

Submitted by Terry Rogers-Womack, who shared with us on our Facebook  page pictures so inspiring, we wanted to learn more. Today, with our hearts heavy with concern for Yosemite; its protectors and stewards, we decided to share her story about this jewel of our national heritage to inspire more caring engagement for its future. Enjoy Terry’s narrative, written in her own voice.

Yosemite3 Yosemite2

I experienced an AWESOME summer vacation this year in Yosemite Nat’l Park! This was our first time going to Yosemite. I live in Omaha, Nebraska and my companion and I drove to Salt Lake City, Utah,  picked up my sister and then drove to Yosemite. We drove west on highway 120. The winding drive into Yosemite was so beautiful.
Initially we tried to book rooms in one of the many Yosemite Park lodges, but they were all sold out. So I hesitantly booked two tent cabins in Camp Curry. It ended up as the best experience, and I would stay in the tent cabins again.
Camp Curry is in Yosemite Valley, in the middle of the redwoods, surrounded by breathtaking, mountain peaks. The tent cabins were clean with cots, sheets, wool blankets, pillows and towels. Some tents have heaters but those tents were sold out during our stay. We were there early August and were comfortable in the evening with the wool blankets.
Check out this website to learn more about the tent cabins!
Yosemite Valley provides free shuttle service which makes it very easy to get around. Most of the Yosemite sites, dining, etc. are within walking/hiking distance of Camp Curry.
While in Yosemite, we drove to Mariposa Park to see the giant sequoias, which didn’t disappoint. Mariposa Grove is 38 miles south of Yosemite, but the winding road through the wooded mountains takes about an hour. And it’s well worth the drive!
I’ve been to a few National Parks (Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Arches, Badlands, Smokey Mountains, Petrified Forest, Redwoods, Zion, Bryce Canyon, etc.) but so far Yosemite is my favorite. One day I will go back, and eventually I will visit the rest of our US National Parks.
Learn more about our National Parks HERE 

Oprah Goes Camping in Yosemite!

A memo from National Parks Director Jonathan B. Jarvis shares:

“On October 29 and November 1, Oprah Winfrey will devote two entire shows to her overnight camping trip in Yosemite National Park earlier this month. Ms. Winfrey’s visit originated with a letter of invitation from Park Ranger Shelton Johnson. While in the park, Shelton shared his Buffalo Soldierpersona – Elizy Bowman – at an evening campfire chat with Ms. Winfrey and others staying at the Lower Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley.
While the shows highlight Ms. Winfrey’s visit to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Tunnel View, her mule ride, and fly fishing on the Merced River, she also raises the question of why there aren’t more visitors of color in national parks.
We all struggle with this question – and what to do about it.
Ms. Winfrey’s visit and the popularity of her show offer the National Park Service an unprecedented opportunity to reach a vast audience of potential first-time visitors and to start a conversation with them.

Photo by Dudley Edmondson

Coming on the heels of Ken Burns’ acclaimed documentary, these broadcasts promise to take the national parks to heights of visibility rarely seen before, particularly in mass media and pop culture.
At the national level, we are working with the Yosemite staff to create opportunities to leverage the broadcasts and deliver a National Park Service invitation to visit the soon-to-be 393 national parks and learn about these places owned by all Americans.
I encourage all of you to use this opportunity to reach out to your communities. For example, you could host viewing parties with the show as a discussion starter on how to increase the diversity of our visitors or hold “how-to” events over the weekend of October 30-31 to teach the basics of hiking, camping, and visiting for first-timers.
While we literally had years to prepare for the America’s Best Idea broadcast, there is now little more than a week to prepare for these episodes that will reach more than 30 million viewers and millions more through Oprah.com.
I am confident that our innovative and creative employees will rise to the occasion and create immediate opportunities for all Americans to connect with the national park idea.”
The Outdoor Afro community is all aflutter about this news, as a major goal of this site is about changing perceptions of who engages with the outdoors. It is especially important that women of color be shown engaging with natural spaces in a positive context, so that others can see the possibility and benefits of building a relationship with treasures such as our national parks — which belong to everyone.
We hope this won’t be the last time we see Oprah camping! Can’t wait to hear your comments about the show!

Women of Color Backpacking Trip!

By Chelsea Griffie, Outdoor Afro Contributor
This year’s Women of Color trip by the Balanced Rock Foundation was July 21st to 25th. Our group ventured to Ostrander Lake also in Yosemite (see below). The premise of these trips is to increase the representation of women of color in the back country, while also providing a safe and supportive environment to learn new skills and connect with the outdoors.

This year, there were a total of five participants, with two instructors, and an intern, which meant that participants were able to receive a lot of individualized attention.

Some Trip Highlights:
• It was a fantastic group of ladies. No one was competitive, or had anything to prove. Everyone seemed genuinely happy. I was psyched to hang out with everyone who was there.
• Even when one participant had to move very slowly, the rest of the group was very supportive and willing to move at whatever pace she needed.
• My co-Instructor, who was an avid fly fisherwoman, brought her rod and reel. While she did not personally catch anything, she coached a participant to land a trout! That night, we had steamy, succulent trout freshly caught in Ostrander Lake!
• We had some poetic moments — literally…here are some trip haikus:
Pennyroyal Tea
Queens of the Bay Area
Women of Color

Better than 2-ply
Corn lily fields forever
Really leave no trace

Really, it was a magical group, and I can’t wait until the next trip!
Chelsea Griffie is the the only known African American woman to have climbed El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite. She was featured in Dudley Edmonson’s book, Black and Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places. When not climbing and leading trips, she lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area, California.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough!

Chelsea Griffie

Chelsea Griffie

I took a climbing trip with Outward Bound in my early 20’s, and it changed my life. It was a physical accomplishment I did not think I was capable of achieving – and my awareness of possibility and faith from that successful experience remains with me today.
Chelsea Griffie was similarly inspired by rock climbing and the outdoors. Her Chicago parents were not campers, so she climbed for the first time as a young adult on a trip to Brazil, and was hooked. In the years since, Chelsea’s skills grew through her participation and leadership in  NOLS, the National Outdoors Leadership School.
In additional to reaching her own climbing goals over the years in the Yosemite Valley, considered the climbing Mecca, Chelsea teaches backpacking skills and yoga to women of color through the Balanced Rock organization. She is also currently the Program Director of Bay Area Wilderness Training, an organization that offers basic leadership courses and advanced seminars to prepare adults to lead youth safely into the wilderness. Here is more about BAWT:

If you are interesting in learning to climb, Chelsea suggests taking a trip to your local climbing gym, where you can test out the sport before deciding if it’s right for you, or if you are up for more of a challenge, consider Outward Bound or NOLS courses. These rigorously rewarding courses are organized around nearly every age group and located all over the world. Try climbing at least once — it just might change your life!
Listen HERE to my talk with Chelsea, which follows an delightful interview with Audrey Peterman, organizer of the Breaking the Color Barrier in the Great American Outdoors Conference.
Photo by Dudley Edmondson

Outdoor Afro Talk Tuesdays -The Buffalo Soldier and Yosemite

Today’s fabulous show featured African American Park Ranger Shelton Johnson.

Photo courtesy of Dudley Edmondson from his Book Black and Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places

Monday’s Bottom Line

I am so excited about this Monday’s Bottom Line because I have something to give away for FREE that is priceless:
A FREE pass to the Yosemite National Park!

Yosemite is one of my all-time favorite outdoor spaces and has terrific options to fit any budget. The park is committed to connecting underrepresented minorities with its natural resources and beauty. Yes, Yosemite wants YOU! So why not give Yosemite a try?

To win the free pass, be the first to call tomorrow’s BlogTalk Radio show and share your favorite memory from the outdoors!
Talk to you then!