Dictionary definition: 1. extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension or fear. 2. extremely good; excellent
People use this word so habitually that it becomes meaningless; however, today I am happy to use it myself. I have been to a place in accordance with both definitions.
What has reduced my vocabulary to a single word, uttered with a breathless wonder? I will tell you. Only a few days ago I was standing on an empty beach alongside the River Merced in the heart of Yosemite Valley, surrounded by vast slabs of granite in all directions and facing one of the world’s iconic mountains – El Capitan. The nausea, the dizziness, the swollen ankles and shortness of breath may have been the result of mild altitude sickness – after all this valley floor is still 4,000 feet above sea level – or possibly the 4 mile hike you have to make to reach this spot if you are without a car.
Yosemite: It’s like you have arrived at the very centre of the earth, at the planet’s temple. It is strong, powerful and very moving. These rocks, those waterfalls – they came out of nothing and now stand two thousand metres high.
I have teetered on the edge of the Grand Canyon, I have marvelled at the balancing rocks in Marble Canyon, I have gazed in wonder at the red sandstone hoodoos of Bryce’s Amphitheatre and shaken my head at the craziness of climbers scaling the sheer side of Angel’s Landing in Zion. Although each and every one of these has filled me with surprise and astonishment at the unique formation of their landscape none have moved me quite like this place. It doesn’t have to be Zen, but it is a place where you can breathe and be inspired.