Mountain High

Thanks to Anna Stump for submitting her story about the Custom Journey she created with Balanced Rock for herself and six friends this summer. This is the perfect time of year to reach out to us and begin planning your Custom Adventure for next season! We hope you enjoy this tale of adventure and nourishment. For the full version please visit her blog


About a year ago I contacted Balanced Rock, a Yosemite-based non-profit, and asked if they would be willing to do a custom journey for a small group of friends.  They immediately said yes and the planning began.  I loved their willingness to be receptive to what I had envisioned for the trip: A time to connect with other mamas in purposeful ways, a time to be in the wild without any agenda, a time to practice yoga without mats or fancy attire, a time to begin a new tradition that I could soon enter our daughters into, and a time to be introspective.

On Yosemite’s 127th Birthday weekend, seven women walked in the high country guided by one wilderness expert and their hearts. We were driven by a want for a deeper connection to ourselves, one another and nature.  We didn’t have any idea how much work it would be and how much we would grow, individually and together.

When we arrived at what we lovingly called, “Shangri La”, our base camp, we were surrounded by vistas that seemed surreal.  We walked together and alone, savoring the time and space to notice details everywhere, like the way the lakes that surrounded us looked as the mountain wind picked up during sunset; glossy with riveting patterns and crisp with alpine melt.   We noticed how contented we felt after a healthy and simple meal, like grits which we all helped prepare and put away, down to licking our bowls clean!  And we soaked in the time to converse with one another about topics that mattered deeply to us.

Shangri La


We listened to Stellar’s Jays, anxiously anticipated Pika as they would dart across rocks and noticed even our eyelashes in our shadows through the afternoon hours.  We checked in with one another often, offering support, care and humor.

We became a tribe. 

Mountain Mama Tribe


We practiced “Wild Yoga” and meditation overlooking the majestic Autumn-colored valley.  Finding our resting pose on granite, laced with quartz crystal, millions of atoms of energy beneath us.

We laughed until our faces hurt, sharing stories of our triumphant day as we marveled at the sunset sweeping over the Valley of Light.



We let handfuls of sacred Public Land soil soak into our grasps as we learned to anchor tent knots in preparation for dark clouds.  We felt the richness of this National Park land under our feet and without hesitation, let it anchor us up steep and narrow trails.

And when we came to Yosemite’s very center summiting Mt. Hoffman together, we found not only the valley’s strength of heart: We found our own.

Summiting Mt. Hoffmann


Maybe, in our fast-paced world, we have to be more purposeful of slowing down and getting off the grid.  Maybe, we have to remember that keeping one another safe and cared for is community work.  Maybe, we have to let go of all connections to all sources of media, and just find the right connection within ourselves and the people who surround us.  Maybe, we need reminders of just how precious our land and environment is, and preserving it can be a daily effort as we go on with our day-to-day lives.  Maybe, we have work to do, to show our daughters that women have always encircled one another with care and support, and their truest friends in life will do the same for them.  Maybe, we have to spend time away from everything we know, to find potential within ourselves we never knew existed.  Maybe, just maybe, that “Mountain High” can be found within our very homes.

The adventure was much more than backpacking and yoga for all of us on the trip.  It rooted us.  It elevated our strength and confidence and allowed us each to feel so much more connected to what matters in our lives.

“Balanced Rock” is a perfect name for the organization, for it is exactly how each of us felt leaving.  Balanced Rock believes in, the Hero’s/Heroine’s Call.  It encompasses the idea that someone hears the call to adventure, they go and answer the call.  When they return home, they share of their experiences and learning.  All I can think about since returning home, is how excited each of us women have been to share with our daughters and families.   The Hero’s/Heroine’s Call is already being placed in our daughters’ hands for we want them too, to feel Mountain High.

Text and photos submitted by Anna Stump. Edited by Paula Wild. 


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