Nature is ancient

My partner Perry and I were in Yosemite over Thanksgiving with our friends Tom and Andrew, their friend Jeff, Andrew’s sister Jane and her husband Scott and their son Henry (and Tom and Andrews dog, Soba).
It was a fantastic getaway. We had a wonderful thanksgiving meal and played cards and watched the Muppet’s Christmas Carol and hiked a lot.
We even heard a pack of coyotes rushing past the cabin in the middle of the night baying and yipping. Incredible!
Perry and I, Yosemite Falls in the background between us
(More pics of the whole group to come soon.)
Yosemite is even more amazing than I expected. Something about being in the
presence of nature like that that can’t be recreated in a photo. Something about the timelessness of nature, to give us perspective and shake us out of the narrow habitrail of our daily routines.
Spectacular views in every direction
Solid rock
Half dome as seen from the Mirror Lake trail
The weather changes quickly! Mist hugs and swirls around El Capitan.
Our little hiking group
Breathtaking in any light
The real thing, up close and personal!
While we were there we stopped at he Ansel Adamsgallery and studio which
is located in the Yosemite valley.When I was a snotty art student I wasn’t interested in Adams perfectly exposed landscapes. In part because they were so straight forward and in part because I was intimidated by his incredibly technical zone system process that I was too impatient to learn and use.

It wasn’t many years later that I saw an exhibit of his actual prints. I was really stunned. I finally was able to appreciate his accomplishment.
Adams was the master of perfectly exposed pristine landscapes.
While I was there I ran across a few other things that were really interesting. One was a book of photos by Glen Denny. He made wonderful casual portraits of climbers in the mid sixties.
Glen Denny
portable music circa 1965
Beatnik climbers?
Check out Glen Denny’s book Yosemite in the Sixties.
Another book I bought was John Muir’s The Yosemite. Muir spent several years living and
exploring the area. He was also instrumental in getting Yosemite designated a National Park.Fascinating to read his experiences in the park, which at the time truly was wild and remote.
The view at the entrance to the valley is so epic it appears to swallow you into it. I have never experienced something so majestic.
Artist view at the entrance to Yosemite Valley
I always lovely going camping and hiking but I have never been in many truly wild places.
Now, I know Yosemite isn’t wild like Montana or Yellowstone or the Yukon, but it feels like it at times, and as remote.
On one hike, the Mirror Lake trail, after not passing anyone for a long time and the trees closed in close I became very anxious. I imagined mountain lions perched atop the many enormous rocks around us, or bears lurking in dark holes between the rocks. The quiet was unnerving and so unfamiliar. It was humbling to face such a personal limitation on a simple largely flat popular hiking trail in one of the busiest parks in the country, but there I was terrified. I managed to keep my mouth shut, realizing I was being silly, but the further we went without seeing anyone the more unnerved I became.
It was just Perry, Tom, and I (and Tom’s dog Soba). We went way north in the valley… there was a landslide on the trail so we took a long way around to see the slide.
Perhaps the mood was set back at the trail head where we were greeted with a Mountain Lion warning with instructions as how to behave if you have an encounter. (Don’t hike alone, stay in close groups, carry small children, Don’t turn your back on the lion, Fight back!) Yikes! That immediately set my nerves on alert.
When we started out Scott and Jane were with us too, and we saw numerous other hikers, but after we crossed a river (very challenging and exhilarating) Jane and Scott decided they didn’t want to continue. They turned back and we came around the other way to see the north side of the slide.
The signs kept saying the slide was in 1.5 miles… but after hours of hiking we hadn’t seen anyone on the trail for a long long time or the slide, and we were still outbound.
Half dome was a sheer wall on one side, and some other mountain on the other. It was so quiet… I have never heard quiet like that.
I finally couldn’t resist and suggested to turn back but Tom was very confident (“this is a popular trail, it’s fine really”) and Perry was unfazed.
By the time we got to a bridge at the northern most part of the path I felt like I was on the moon. It was beautiful, but I was having a hard time taking it all in.
Looking West from the northern Mirror Lake trail bridge.
Looking East
The Mirror Lake Trail Bridge from the south side
Tom, Soba and I on the bridge.
I am bundled up enough for a polar expedition!
The temperature was was in the 40s, not exactly frigid.
After crossing the bridge we got to a part of the path that looked like it hasn’t been used for some time due to the slide…  I was a nervous wreck. The sun was very low.
Everyone wanted to all the way see the rock fall. We finally came to a barricade (easily crossed, but with a sign warning hikers not to continue further) but no slide was in view (1.5 miles my ass!)
I voted again to turn back imagining us being tracked by large hungry black bears (Tom, Andrew and Jeff had seen one near that same spot last year).
We turned back instead of passing the barricade. Whew.
Soon after we turned back we saw a older woman (in her 60s at least) hiking alone, going toward the fall area! Then shortly after that a young couple with two small children drifting in wide arcs around them!
I thought they were all crazy. Did they not see the Lion Warning sign, or have I been in the city too long?Of course after that we passed more and more hikers, all outbound. The more people I saw the more embarrassed I was for been so skittish.

We had no incident on the return and as the sun set it was spectacular they way it lit up the meadows and walls of the cliffs. The timing was perfect. It was getting dark as we made it back the trailhead.We all met up at the Ahwahnee Hotel to sit by the fire. The place was perched right under the mountain, a huge craftsman pile of massive timbers and stained glass. The fireplace was so large you could stand in it. Andrew, Jane, her husband Scott their 2 yr old son Henry and Andrew’s friend Jeff had scoped out the ideal spot on the couches right in front.

We all piled out by the fire. It was in the low 40s all day and windy. It felt great to relax and get warm. The hotel was beautiful. We had some hot chocolate and hung out for about an hour before heading back to the cabin. What an amazing day!On the way out we stopped back by the big viewing stop at the entrance to the valley. It was dark and foggy and very windy and the moon was rising over half dome. We were the only ones there.

The night view was eerie and beautiful. I can’t wait to go back.

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