Yosemite Summit 2013 Report

Off the Beaten Path.


Why do I take a group of men in ministry to Yosemite National Park every year for a week of hiking, relaxing, fellowship and unplugging from the normal busy routine of life? Aren’t there other beautiful places? Sure. But not like Yosemite. And especially off the beaten path.


Off the Beaten Path in McGurk Meadow

We get off the beaten path in two ways. First of all, we get off the beaten path of our normal daily and weekly routines. We don’t even follow much of a schedule on the Summit, which is at times hard for guys to adapt to. We leave when we are ready, eat when we find a spot, and return to the lodge when the hike is done. There is no schedule. It is refreshingly different than the normal path of life. Secondly, while Yosemite National Park is visited by millions of tourists a year, the vast majority of them are what I call “Valley Dwellers,” they never leave the comfort and beauty of the famous Yosemite Valley.


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It’s hard to fault them. It is a place that presidents have visited going back to when Abraham Lincoln declared Yosemite a national treasure nearly a decade before Roosevelt established the National Park Act. You could easily spend all your time exploring and enjoying the towering granite cliffs and towering water falls of the valley. However, you would miss the true treasures of Yosemite that are to be found off the beaten path.

Now that my excursions to Yosemite number in the double digits, I’ve learned where these treasures are – and we can spend entire days seeing very few, if any, other tourists or hikers – and feel like we have this entire gorgeous wilderness all to ourselves!


Dave Chilling by Tenaya Lake

Then something happens.

When there is no e-mail, no voice mail, no work related text messages, no Facebook updates or Twitter notifications… when you are suddenly no longer in demand… (and the world goes on just fine without you!) You find that you get a realistic view of yourself, and you come to enjoy just being with God, instead of working for Him. And you also find that’s what He’s been wanting all along. After all, He really doesn’t need your help. He is God after all!


Karl and Patrick at Panorama Point

But even off the beaten path, there are paths off that path to even more amazing beauty to behold! You discover that sometimes the best parts of the journey are the detours off the side trails. Along the famous Panorama Trail there is a short side trail that most hikers miss that leads to a point called Panorama Point.


(Click to view larger in a new window.)

There is a geological marker there from 1905 warning of a $250 fine if you tamper with it. (That’s $6,580 in today’s money!) When you are at the Point you can see hikers walking past the turn off and missing it. It is fun informing other hikers of it the short while you can as you hike away from it.


Chris near the turn off to Panorama Point

Only those who are observant of the trail going off to the side and willing to take it will get to see the breath taking view that is set before your eyes at this incredible Point. Those who miss it are truly missing out – and yet, sadly, never know what they missed.

It begs the question, how many things in LIFE do we miss out on that we are so close to, but we never even know we missed? Not knowing may be a blessing, but how tragic! May we be both observant and willing so that we don’t miss out on the Panorama Points of life!

Tom was back for his fourth Summit.

2013 was the 6th Yosemite Summit, and how many times can I report, “it was my favorite so far?” Again this year I took a smaller group, and I’m enjoying the dynamics of a smaller group, so guys who want to go need to sign up as soon as registration opens, as I only have four spots for next year, and one is already spoken for. We had beautiful weather and God confirmed to me yet again that this is something I need to be doing, not only for my own walk, but making it available for others as well to join me and experience with me the benefits of intentional time away to be with God in the majesty of His Creation.


Final day in front of a giant sequoia. (It's a lot bigger than it looks here!)

And finally… the highlight video for 2013:

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