Trip Report - Wild Women Workshop, Yosemite

Ghosts in the Meadow (Jody Pritchard) More photos below.

By Jody Pritchard

Most of our trip reports are written weeks, even (gulp) months after the fact. Not this one. I’m sitting in Yosemite’s Camp Curry dining room on December 29th, 2006 having just finished a medium sized Hawaiian pizza all by myself. Hush, if you slept outside in the low 20’s, attended a private yoga class, and burned straight uphill in today’s off-trail “adventure” hike, you’d want your own too.

It’s the week between Christmas and New Years and my wonderful husband is holding down the San Francisco fort without me. He had to work, I didn’t. I could have stayed home. I chose instead to contact Heather and Eliza of Wild Women Workshops and set up a custom individual retreat, complete with yoga classes, creative writing instruction, and hiking in Yosemite Valley. Honestly, this maybe the best thing I’ve ever done for myself, ever.

With 2007 less than a week away and the end of my third decade only two months out, I wanted some time to reflect and learn some new tools that would help me with my 2007 New Year’s resolutions:

  1. Become a calmer, more peaceful self
  2. Be more present in my day to day life and relationships
  3. Unleash the creative being I feel brewing within, and let ‘er rip

I’ve camped in our trusty tent by myself for the past three nights, through a soaking storm and winter temperatures. Fortunately, I packed a ridiculous amount of toasty bedding and have gotten much better at controlling my imagination each time I hear a strange sound. Did I forget to latch the bear bin? Did I leave any food in the Subaru? Will the garlic smell on my fingers attract a furry bed buddy? Thankfully the answer has been “no” each time – hopefully tonight will be no different.

There were a few hitches. The cold rendered the butane stove worthless and the traditional camp stove is spurting white gas from two locations – not good. It might be missing an o-ring, I suspect it’s really just user error. Mental note: practice lighting the stove by myself even if Matt offers to cook. Good thing hot food and a community microwave are available just a half mile from camp. I also forgot deodorant and sunscreen. Not a biggie, I’m just a pink faced smelly stranger to most folks. My newly made friends, three year old Gio and five year old Reese, don’t seem to mind.

The mystery of ‘Downward Dog’ was unveiled and I quickly realized I am not flexible - at all

Wednesday was my first yoga class, ever. The mystery of “Downward Dog” was unveiled and I quickly realized I am not flexible - at all. At least I know how to breathe. Wait, even that was hard to follow. “How is she making that noise with her just her nostrils???” Fortunately, Heather and Eliza are exceptionally patient teachers and offered lots of smiles and encouragement over the past several days. This is definitely something I will continue when I get home. After each session I felt well cared for and connected to myself – these feelings are addicting and I can hardly wait to take advantage of the yoga classes and new mat I received for Christmas. Thanks Mary and Grant!

Heather also helped me become comfortable sharing my writing by offering a sincere and attentive ear. She provided writing “starts” we would both work on individually and then read out loud and discuss together. The imagination is a fun and thoughtful source of entertainment. Our writing settings also couldn’t have been more inspiring: fireside during a snow storm, and rocky perches above sunny Yosemite Valley. This was really good stuff.

During the “off hours” I’ve been practicing my photography. The beauty of still and frozen Yosemite has provided endless material to work with. But it hasn’t been easy. My biggest challenge in this Ansel Adam’s world has been to find ways to take the famous subject matter and make it my own: new compositions, secondary views, varying the depth of field. I think my favorites will be those made while turning my back to the crowds with their long lenses and tripods, to seek the Robert Frost “Road Less Traveled” type of photo. And this might sound crazy, but I’ve felt Ruth Bernhard’s presence with me on this trip. She passed away last week at 101, and was a legendary photographer who taught her students to really “see” nature in all of its infinite detail and wonder. I’ve thought of her when observing ice crystals on granite and melting drops of water on the pine needles. She would have enjoyed this place. Maybe she has been with me.

It’s 10pm and I’m going to be shooed out of the warmth in moments. It’s a balmy 28 degrees outside and I’m exhausted from this week’s adventures. One more night in the cold, one more day until I give my husband a giant hug and tell him how much I love him and appreciate his support of this amazing experience. Peace to all and a very Happy New Year!

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