Sunday, March 31, 2013

Trail Markers, part 3 (the not-so-well-known places)

Cataract of Diamonds – below Nevada Fall and above the Emerald Pool

Cave of Spirit Voice – This is the cave at the base of Upper Yosemite Fall.  From the valley floor it looks like a dark gap, but it is large enough to stand up inside.  Muir spent a night here.  I spent half an hour one October and collected Yosemite Falls in my cup.  It had been a dry year.  From the cave, the Lost Arrow is off to your left.

Contemplation Rock – one of two overhanging rocks at Glacier Point.  It is more commonly known as Photographer’s Rock.  You will see people dancing on it occasionally, although not legally.

Devil’s Elbow – a loop in the Merced River opposite El Capitan.  Its course was rearranged by the massive flood in 1997.

Diamond Flume – one name for the narrow canyon above the Nevada Fall bridge that is particularly glittery at dawn.

Enchantment Point – one of the early names for Valley View.  I like Enchantment better.

Fern Ledge – This is a ledge 450 feet up from the base of Upper Yosemite Fall.  The falling water arches away from the rock at this point, and Muir once tried to walk across it and got into trouble when the wind shifted the water back into the wall.

Ledge Trail – This was an early trail that went from Curry Village to Glacier Point.  It was only a mile long but really steep.  Much of it was wiped out by a rockslide in 1984.  After the rockslide, I tried to hike up from Curry on remnants of the trail until the trail disappeared and I began slipping on piles of loose gravel.  So I stepped off the trail and enjoyed a controlled slide back down to camp.

Horseshoe Grotto – At the top of Illilouette Falls.  If you hike the Panorama Trail between Nevada Fall and Glacier Point, spend time here rather than hiking through.  It’s a lovely, open setting, and some people have been known to camp here overnight.

Overhanging Rock – the other hanging rock at Glacier Point, east of Contemplation/Photographer’s Rock.

Sunnyside Bench – east of the top of Lower Yosemite Fall.  Every time I hear it called a bench I think of giants sitting on it with their legs hanging over.  Muir liked to hike up here for its unique view over the valley.  He got to it by hiking up Indian Canyon.  When I went up Indian Canyon to get on the Bench, I discovered that a gap existed that I could not get across.  I’m thinking that rockslides over the years took out the connection because I went up and down and did not see any way over.

Table Rock – on the flat area between Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall where Snow’s La Casa Nevada Hotel stood in the late 1800s.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Alone in Nature

We aren’t alone when we hike by ourselves.  If we respect nature, it will be a companion who walks alongside us.  It will share itself with us, sometimes conversing so loudly in a waterfall that we can’t hear ourselves think, and sometimes murmuring so quietly in a creek that we have to get down on our knees to hear what it is saying.

We don’t have to hike very far to feel nature’s presence.  We can sit and let nature come to us.  After half an hour, the birds and animals will set their caution aside and resume what they were doing.  As we watch them go about their daily lives, we discover the many ways that we are kin. And when I am tired and silent, I lean back into nature’s arms and listen to the world we share.

We can also hike on and on without ever stopping until our senses overload from all the beauty and the endless discoveries and we fall mute in ecstasy.

When we begin to hike, we head off on a trail eager to discover what it will show us.  When the trail starts to head up a mountain, we take another trail to stay under the trees, or along the river, or in the meadow, unless, of course, we want the challenge of going up the steep side of the mountain.  We pause when we want to linger in a setting where we feel a presence, then move until we feel drawn to stop again.

Nature meets us where we are and guides us further down the path into our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.  Nature also challenges us by bringing mysteries for us to ponder by the campfire at night.

When we listen to nature, we hear our own wilderness respond.