…but i borrowed it.

This is my new favorite song…

According to a friend…

This a movie that reminds some Texans of me…

According to a friend…

Oh… no.

Momma called me today.  Wanted to know more about the Yosemite climbing restrictions and the visitation ridiculousness.  Wanted to write a letter to YNP and said, “I mean… I’m passionate about it because I love Yosemite… because I trust how much you love Yosemite.”

Made me think.  That’s what love is.  Or, no.  That is a result of real love… trusting… blindly.  Knowing someone so well [loving someone so deeply, truly] that you just trust them… trust their passions… their beliefs.  I don’t know if I’ve ever loved someone that purely… but I imagine it… I believe in it… I hope for it… I love the idea of it.

learning to climb, love, live.

I have so much love for a certain place.  Many places, actually, but maybe the most love for Yosemite.

Our access to climbing and camping in Yosemite is in danger, though.  Check it out.

The Access Fund encourages us to write a letter to the park.

I wrote a letter, thinking that it would just be a couple simple sentences.  But man, oh man… I love that place…

one of my first days ever in yosemite.

my first climb ever in yosemite valley.

boystown olympics with loves in yosemite valley.

anna and me climbing in yosemite valley.

To: Kristine Bunnell
From: Rachel Stevens

Dear Kristine,

Past summers I have worked anywhere from a Taco Stand Server to an Interpretive Naturalist to live in Yosemite Valley. To revel in the amazing granite walls, the Merced, the wildlife and the people; I would do about anything.

Climbing is such an important part of who I am now. I first learned how to climb at Cookie Cliff in Yosemite. The prospect of shutting it down breaks my heart.

Planning trips back to visit Yosemite, I expect to camp primitively, enjoying the Valley like it should be enjoyed… Bright stars, fresh air, dirty hair…

The changes you want to make not only limit the magic of Yosemite Valley for myself and so many alike, but they are also the last resort behind steps that haven’t even been taken.

If you want to preserve and show respect for the Valley, the river, then start with fundamental problems. The traffic in Yosemite is out of control. Think about the fuel emissions clogging up Yosemite Valley (only one mile wide by seven miles long!). A free transport into the valley with the current shuttle system running would solve so many problems.

And think: If people are limited to what they bring in, it is inevitable that they will leave behind less… as well as feed the wildlife less of their own fruit roll-ups and beef jerky… because now they have a limited amount instead of the Costco boxes waiting in their cars for bears to bust into.

Yes, life will be inconvenient for many Valley dwellers… especially climbers trying to drive to coveted climbs before their 2pm Taco Stand shift starts… but in the end, people will deal, the Valley will thrive.

Yosemite is where I learned to climb, learned to love, learned to live. Please do not restrict the ability for any of these opportunities to thrive.

And now a word from a organization I sponsor…

Thank you for the opportunity to provide scoping comments to the Merced Wild and Scenic River Plan (MRP). Please consider the following points when developing a user capacity program for the Merced River planning area. Yosemite is perhaps the most important climbing area in the world and Park planners should use this plan to protect and enhance climbing opportunities.

Climbing Should Be Identified as One of the Merced River’s Outstanding Remarkable Values

The Wild and Scenic River Act provides for the preservation of “outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural, or other similar values.” Climbing in the Merced River planning area fits the “recreational” category for an outstanding remarkable value and should be protected and enhanced as such. To be included as an ORV, a value must meet two criteria. It must be (1) river-related, and (2) a unique, rare, or exemplary feature that is significant at a comparative regional or national scale. Much of the climbing in Yosemite Valley and Merced River Gorge segments of the planning area lies within a quarter mile of the river and is undeniably linked to the river and its processes. Climbing in Yosemite has also inspired several guidebooks, thousands of unique routes, and countless stories and legends. It is well established that climbing in Yosemite Valley’s Merced River planning area is a unique, rare, and exemplary recreational activity that attracts visitors regionally, nationally and internationally. Accordingly, YNP should reference climbing as an Outstandingly Remarkable Value for the Merced River Plan.

Yosemite’s User Capacity Framework Should Consider Climbing’s Unique Characteristics

Yosemite National Park should consider the unique characteristics of climbing, and develop management policies in the MRP that enhance the climbing experience while protecting current use levels and environmental conditions. To protect and enhance Yosemite climbing, the MRP should address:

• Transportation into the Park.
• Increased camping opportunities, with more primitive sites.
• Parking spaces at traditional climbing access trailhead locations.
• Intra-Park transportation with bus stops placed at major climbing access trailheads.
• Maintained climbing access trails, staging areas and descent trails.
• Ability to stay in the Valley for extended periods. The climbing in Yosemite is among the most difficult in the World and takes weeks to master even for expert climbers.
• Amenities such as groceries and showers and the climbing equipment shop.
• Interpretive and educational facilities for and about climbing, including a climbing museum.
• NPS support facilities and services, including Search and Rescue and the Climbing Ranger program.

Critical to maintaining the outstandingly remarkable values of the climbing experience in Yosemite Valley and Merced River Gorge are the following qualities:

• A healthy and protected natural environment.
• Reduced development in Yosemite Valley.
• Primitive camping opportunities.
• Effective transportation to and from climbing access trails.
• Maintained climbing access trails.
• A quiet soundscape consistent with the Valley’s wilderness designation, NPS regulations and the California Vehicle Code.

Unlike other recreational activities, climbing is a widely dispersed activity taking place in a vertical landscape with thousands of possible routes and destinations. Other uses, by comparison, are limited to far fewer established trails, picnic sites, and boating locations. Accordingly, Yosemite planners should take into account the unique characteristics of climbing and not unnecessarily affect Yosemite’s climbing access in the MRP.

The Merced River Plan Must Allow for Access to Areas Outside of the Planning Area Boundary

The Merced River Plan and any user capacity model adopted by the NPS must allow climbers to access areas outside the Merced River Plan boundary. Many approach trails used to access climbing walls (such as El Capitan and Half Dome) pass through the MRP planning area. Yosemite’s user capacity model should not unreasonably restrict access to outstandingly remarkable recreational values within the planning corridor. Importantly, YNP should also not place unreasonable restrictions on legitimate activities located just outside of the Merced River Plan boundaries but which require access through the planning area. No other activity has the same dynamic as climbing whereby passage through the planning area at many dispersed locations is necessary, and it is critically important that YNP recognize this circumstance and manage for reasonable use limits at least consistent with existing low-impact climbing use levels.

In short, I support recognizing climbing as an “outstandingly remarkable value” for the Merced River planning area, and believe that Yosemite’s user capacity framework should accommodate climbing’s unique characteristics in Yosemite Valley and the Lower Merced Gorge. Thank you for considering the importance of Yosemite to climbers worldwide and for your hard work on this extensive planning process.

Sincerely and Passionately,

Rachel Stevens

a view of the valley... and myself.

beautiful loves makin' smores in the valley.

my niece, emerson, who i hope grows up to climb in the valley.

I encourage you [especially my yosemite lovers] to get involved.  Huge props to the Access Fund for keeping us aware and fighting for our passions.

be hope.

Hey American Friends…

How’s it going?  I hope you’re paying attention… because there’s a lot going on…

Tomorrow, President Obama is giving his State of the Union Address.  I’m sure you’ve heard about this and I hope you intend on watching.

A lot of talk about our economy.  Where are the jobs?  And then Health Care Clusterf*ck 2009/10 and National Debt Ridiculousness, etc… etc.

Over a year ago, I gathered with the Teton County Democrats and other Obama supporters to watch the election at a local coffee shop.  The excitement of Obama winning was overwhelming.  People crying tears of joy, friends hugging, hope… HOPE.  True hope is something amazing… a form of love, I believe… and we all had it.  It inspired us.

Tomorrow I join the Teton Democrats again to talk about a year with President Obama and watch his address.  There’s a different feeling in the air, for sure, but is our hope gone?  I hope not.

There are things that are not good in our world, our country, our county, ourselves… but I challenge us to [get ready for the cliché] be the change we want to see.

Get involved.  Be hope.

I’ve thought a lot about this lately.  What is important?  What are the good things I want to be hope for?

1.  People.  Loved ones and my loved ones’ loved ones and others’ loved ones.   People.

2.  Our Earth.  The beauty of it.  The abundance of it.

3.  The things that enhance our world and make community.  Love.

I don’t know where that should go, what that should mean… but it’s time to get involved.

•  Help people.  Help Haiti.  Holy Hell.  It’s a tragedy.  It’s a disaster.  Families gone.  Homes gone.  The things that are too precious to think about ever leaving us… Gone.  And we need to continue giving when the cameras turn off, the reporters are gone.  Give. Help.

•  Pay attention to the world you love.  Help it.  Reduce.  Reuse.  Recycle.  Be proactive.  Love what we’ve been given.  A stranger commented this on my last post: http://veganvideo.org/ Awakening.  Changing.  [i mean… don’t get me wrong… i love cheese as much as (okay, more than) the next guy… so, this is a whole different topic of discussion…]  But pay attention to what you eat.  Maybe you don’t change anything… but pay attention.

•  And then there’s this gorgeous world of love and dancing and smiling and crying from beauty.  [my favorite.]  Get passionate about it.  Volunteer love.  Anywhere.  What you have a heart for, help it.  Get together with others and glorify what is good.  Whether that’s art, music, climbing, skiing, faith, yoga, food, laughter, building, learning, giving, political optimism… it matters not… it just matters that the heart, the beauty, the hope remains in this wonderful, wonderful place.

I know those things aren’t really political… I digressed… I am Distracto… but you should watch the State of the Union Address.  Pay attention.

[sorry if this was lecturey… did not mean to be too lecturey.  i just got real excited about things… about the good that could be… in the world, in the states, in myself.  you know i’m not good at things… things like following through, staying focused, doing more than saying… so, i’m saying to myself as much as to all three of you who read my blahg.  so so so much love.  tons and tons.]

kept and kept.

Finding myself in everything.


Wow.  Am I self-involved?  Narcissistic?  Probably.  I guess.  No.  Please, no.  Probably.

– Your blog is very personal.

– Yeah, I guess it is… I don’t know what else I would write about.

Is it a sign of uneducatedness to only write about myself?  [or is the give-away the word “uneducatedness”?]

Is it completely vain to think you’d care?

Welp, it’s all I know.  So, right now, it’s either that/this [me] or nothing [not me].

[in chronological order of the day… this day!]

Finding myself in the book I’m reading.  A book that could become a favorite…

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Hard [yet amazing] reflections/recognitions of sadness, love, inspiration, loneliness.  And laughing.  Laughing out loud.  Loving.  Towards a book?  What?  Judge me.  Try.

“If we were to open to a random page in her journal – which she must have kept and kept with her at all times, not fearing that it would be lost, or discovered and read, but that she would one day stumble upon that thing which was finally worth writing about and remembering, only to find that she had no place to write it – we would find some rendering of the following sentiment: I am not in love.”  [page 80.]

Finding myself, the younger [the better?] me, in an email.  In a picture.

Momma and Mary Kelley.

Mary Kelley.  The woman who lived across the street for as long as I can remember… until late high school.  That’s when she moved to Houston… where she is now… at age 90.  Momma visited her and sent me this picture.  [p.s. could my mom get more gorgeous?]

I started crying.  Crying again now.  Mary Kelley.  Wow.

I went to her house almost every day after school for some time in grade school.  She taught me how to play Hearts.  She taught me how to play Dominoes.  [and then a dominoes game called, “chicken foot.”]

She gave me any treat she had, anything I wanted.  She let me play with all her son’s old toys.  [which were SO COOL because they were all so old, so priceless, so loved and kept.]  For a long time it was her and her husband, Harry.  [yes, mary and harry… and [i kid you not] their son, larry… but larry was older and did not live with them… only visited.]

This picture.  I was brought back to those times.  Those cards.  Those candies.  Those toys.  That morning.

The morning I saw blue and red lights flashing in my window through the darkness of early.  I went, looked out.  There was an ambulance at the Kelley’s.  Mary, standing in her night gown, looking into the back of the ambulance.

Harry died.  In his sleep.  Of natural causes.  Hard.  Me being young, but understanding sadness and hardness and that things weren’t fair.

Visiting Mary more often… or trying.  More cards.  More candies.  Sarah being old enough to come over… play Hearts with us.  Mary and me kicking her ass… then remembering that she was, like, eight… and letting her win.

Then getting too cool to go over to her house after school.  Not riding the bus anymore.  Getting rides home.  Then Mary moved.  Sadness.

Now she’s 90, legally blind, but as beautiful as ever.  Amazing.  Strong.  Witty.  Loves.  Loved.  Gosh, wow.  Beautiful.


Finding myself in the movie I watched tonight.  A movie that could become a favorite…

“I suppose I do have one unembarrassed passion. I want to know what it feels like to care about something passionately.”

“And neither the flower nor the insect will ever understand the significance of their lovemaking. I mean, how could they know that because of their little dance the world lives? But it does. By simply doing what they’re designed to do, something large and magnificent happens. In this sense they show us how to live – how the only barometer you have is your heart. How, when you spot your flower, you can’t let anything get in your way.”

“You are what you love, not what loves you. That’s what I decided a long time ago.”

And then a song, for good measure…

An old favorite with newness…

Self-involved?  Who?  Me?


for the twenty-second time.

They say spring is the time for renewal.  I say, nay!  It is winter!

Winter.  WINTER!

Too many friends, too many dinner parties, is a good thing.

So much love.  Everywhere.

And fun!

And smiles.  Real Smiles!

Renewed.  On.  Like a light switch.  No.  Like a light that you turn on by pulling a metal, ball chain and then the light turns on, the chain bounces up, dances down, dances, dances til it sits still, still shining, happy with itself, with it’s dancing.

Time to ski.

[with two thumbs!]

Here is this:

…a bit sad, but refreshing.  Goodness.  Amazing song.