From that point on, visiting Yosemite became a twice-yearly trip for Flinn and laid the foundation for all the travel he’s done in his life -- as well as his career as a writer. “By dint of needing to learn about backpacking, I fell under the sway of this writer named Colin Fletcher who used to write very evocatively about the wilderness and hiking,” he says. “I liked his writing so much, he made me want to become a writer.”
At 16, Flinn took up rock climbing, eventually doing the five-day, straight-up climb of El Capitan. His two decades of climbing and 20-plus years as a travel writer have taken him to 75 countries, including Bulgaria, Tibet, and the Cook Islands. But between those far-flung adventures, in the ensuing 53 years since his first Yosemite trip, Flinn, who lives in Pacifica, California, has returned to the park more than 100 times (a figure he swears he’s not exaggerating).
“I remember once, not that long ago, arriving in Yosemite Valley again and feeling that sense of awe even though it’s my 100th time or something,” Flinn says. “I remember telling my friend if this was in Kyrgyzstan, I would travel halfway around the world to see this.”
With more than a hundred trips under his belt, you could say Flinn is a certified Yosemite expert. Here’s his can’t-miss list to the best of the park: