Celebrating 50 in Yosemite

By: Carol Blaisdell, M.D. Medical Officer — NHLBI, NIH

Planning for one’s 50th birthday celebration is not such a big deal, as long as you look at it as your glass is now half full and you look forward to continuing to add to it. One of my favorite wonders of the world is Yosemite National Park. The mountain formations are breathtaking when one stands in the Valley looking up…where the awesome peaks appear as natural cathedrals.

My best friend from high school had convinced me to hike to the top of Half Dome with her when we turned 40 in 1998.  She warned me then that I would need to build up my strength and stamina to reach the top with her.  Remembering that feat, made me want to return.

My older siblings had celebrated their 50th birthdays in the previous six years, with several of us joining them in Eugene, OR; Fallen Leaf Lake, CA; and Denver, CO.  I wanted all five of my brothers and sisters, my parents and my husband to join me in celebrating my birthday, so I started planning a year before the big day.

Enthusiasts for Yosemite as well, my parents generously committed to accommodating us at the Ahwhanee—a fabulous timber and stone hotel located right under Yosemite Falls.  We spent several days together hiking, biking and visiting.  My sister-in-law shares my birthday (she 3 years older) and had family shirts printed to commemorate the occasion. My niece, a photography student in Denver, captured the family event—so many great and wonderful moments with many shots including my favorite, Half Dome behind us.

Ansel Adams’ original photographs of Yosemite’s Half Dome, El Capitan and Bridal and Yosemite falls decorate my home, which provided breathtaking “views” in anticipation of my 50th as well as reminding me daily of a place full of memories with my family.


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