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Comfort Zone: Unknown | A Yosemite Adventure in Pursuit of Progress

Comfort Zone: Unknown | A Yosemite Adventure in Pursuit of Progress

by Michael Misselwitz, Lasting Adventures content director/guide

Leaving our comfort zones can be difficult, especially when we’re not used to doing so. That’s the beauty of doing it, a challenge that often contributes to the worth of leaving. Open trails into foreign landscapes, leaps of faith into unforeseeable futures, failing, righting course and rising to occasions—these experiences lend life to character in ways comfort cannot.

Home is the ultimate comfort zone. In the end, it’s where we long to be, especially when life gets difficult. My home is no exception—I live in a beach house in San Diego. Outside the sun is usually shining, the water is rarely cold and most of my waking hours are spent in flip flops and boardshorts. Inside, my Sonos turns on Spotify Weekly when I walk into the room, the microwave makes popcorn and AppleTV plays Game of Thrones on demand. Over time I’ve nuzzled snugly into a fairly easy lifestyle, and while I do challenge myself to progress, I am beginning to feel excessively comfortable here.

Meanwhile, nature is calling. The great thrills in life—not found in our living rooms—and the quickest paths of progress—not leading to our front doors‚ are waiting. Life’s richest experiences are out there somewhere I’ve never called home, based on my experience with such things, most likely in a far-flung, untamed terrain. So, the time has come for me to leave this home behind.

Great leaps make for great moments. Especially when backdropped by a national park.

Yosemite beckons with a certain enchantment unlike anyplace else I’ve found. The sheer magnitude of its wilderness instills an  energy that reaches right into the soul and unshakably grips. Yosemite—the granite gem of the west, nature’s wedding ring for humanity. It’s the place seekers of progress since John Muir have deemed among the world’s utmost wonders worth preserving. Every day trip visitor and bus tourist can sense it in the air of the valley, but to really appreciate its essential marvel, to be fully inspired by the value of its vast horizons, requires complete immersion. It requires exiting one’s comfort zone for long enough to make the wild feel like home, even if it’s only temporary.

The author thriving well outside the comfort zone on Mist Trail.

In my brief but increasingly frequent visits to Yosemite, I’ve flirted with it’s awe to a point of infatuation. It’s the place I find myself most happy and alive, where I experience a level of wonder unachievable in the concrete world. For years I’ve dreamed from the comfort of my home about living out a life there. I’ve been equally enthralled and intimidated by its thousand-foot walls, its isolation and the potentially drastic effects such a move might have on my course. Change, however positive, is often daunting. And with the power of this park, there’s no doubt that such a move could inspire a massive chapter-turn in my life. Even more daunting than the change, though, was fostering the opportunity. That’s where Lasting Adventures came in.

As it does for so many youth summer camp participants and guided backpacking guests, Lasting Adventures provided just the right opportunity for me to challenge my comfort zone. The only difference between me and the guests: I get to be the guide. When Scott Gehrman, founding ringmaster of the nonprofit, asked me to join his team in Yosemite this summer, I sat down and did the math. A nonprofit that supports youth outdoor programs and environmental conservation. Plus a full-on move to Yosemite to expand my skillset in the wilderness and practice principles I deem of paramount virtue. Plus all the inspiration that comes naturally with total immersion in this magic valley. Plus expert backcountry guides, wilderness ambassadors and likeminded activists eager to teach me endless new possibilities. Plus wholesome living, campfires, unobstructed stars and panorama views. Equals a complete and utter exodus of my current comfort zone, and a full-bore thrust into countless new ones. All of a sudden, I was no longer intimidated. I took Mr. Gehrman’s offer, and I couldn’t be more excited for the summer to come.

John Muir once wrote, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in.” We all need comfort, but we also all need adventure. We need the inspiration of big leaps, the awe of new experiences and the challenge of unknowns to manifest positive change. I have high hopes that my time in Yosemite will provide all the above. At the very least, it will be a chapter I’ll never forget. I can only dream about what it might be at the very most, but those dreams may well become my next comfort zone.

I hope to meet you there this summer!

Expand your comfort zone with a Lasting Adventures day hike or backpacking trip.

Learn about our summer camp offerings in Lassen Volcanic National Park, Olympic National Park and Yosemite.

 More from our staff: Why I Guide: Juliet Ramirez

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