CROFT: Books worth reading about Yosemite

04/19/2014 12:00 AM

04/18/2014 4:16 PM

For those of us living in the Central Valley or somewhere within the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, Yosemite National Park literally sits in our back yard. Or front yard, if your house faces east.

Yet, for some of us, it seems we can never go there enough – definitely not as often as we’d like.

It seems once we said goodbye to childhood, accepting this new realm of adult responsibility, the fast-forward button was pushed. And there it remains, stuck – day after day, week after week.

In this modern age, our bodies race here and there, to and from appointments, obligations and the endless surge of demands on our limited and fleeting time. Yet, for some, our spirits long for respite in open spaces, under heaven’s canopy, where nature furnishes music, entertainment and comfort we never seem to tire of.

No, a picture can’t compare to the real thing. But on those days when Yosemite beckons while we’re duty-bound, a good book can provide a temporary escape. The following titles will bring hours of enjoyment when there’s no time to get away.

• With the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act this year, the Yosemite Conservancy recently published “Inspiring Generations: 150 Years, 150 Stories in Yosemite.” Photos and stories represent memories from over a century of park rangers and naturalists, presidents and congressmen, volunteers, school students, families and individuals (some from around the world).

Having just purchased a copy, I’ve only read a few of the 150 stories. But one common theme prevails: Every generation of Yosemite visitors has experienced the park in a variety of ways and in different time periods. Clothing styles, transportation, and the definition of “outdoor adventure” have dramatically changed over the years. Yet the response of each first-time visitor remains the same: amazement!

• Sharon Donovan, publicist for Yosemite Conservancy, recommends “Seed of the Future: Yosemite and the Evolution of the National Park Idea” by Emmy-winning writer and documentary filmmaker Dayton Duncan.

“It’s lavishly illustrated with more than 100 archival images and full-color landscape photographs … a compelling narrative,” she said.

• Due for release in June, “Yosemite in Pictures” is by nature photographer Ryan Alonzo. As a seasonal park resident, he’s able to catch images of those breathtaking scenes when weather patterns and natural light combine in just the right way.

“His photos are stunning, capturing all the majestic mountains, waterfalls, wildlife and unique natural features of this extraordinary place,” said Donovan.

• Also due out in June is “Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers.”

According to Donovan, “This book contains mountain meditations to inspire the climber, backpacker, hiker and adventurer in all of us. Quotes from well-known climbers, nature writers, poets, philosophers, and leading adventurers are paired with beautiful images of Yosemite by renowned landscape photographer Michael Frye.”

There are books of all kinds for children, too, including picture books, coloring and activity books, journals for recording personal experiences, story books and guide books.

It’s almost impossible to write about Yosemite without quoting John Muir: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

Find a way to visit Yosemite this season, even if it’s just through pictures and prose. These books and others are available in bookstores, gateway community visitor centers, at the Yosemite Visitor Center, at www.yosemiteconservancystore.com or by calling (209) 379-2317, ext. 17.

No matter how you look at it, Yosemite National Park inspires everyone it touches. Let it inspire you in the coming weeks and months.

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