And from the eastern boundary of this vast golden flower-bed rose the mighty Sierra, miles in height, and so gloriously colored and so radiant, it seemed not clothed with light but wholly composed of it, like the wall of some celestial city…. Then it seemed to me that the Sierra should be called, not the Nevada or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light.
And after ten years of wandering and wondering in the heart of it, rejoicing in its glorious floods of light, the white beams of the morning streaming through the passes, the noonday radiance on the crystal rocks, the flush of the alpenglow, and the irised spray of countless waterfalls, it still seems above all others the Range of Light.” — from The Yosemite(1912), John Muir
The last time I entered the heart of the Sierra, it was 2002, and I was on my PCT thru-hike.
Since that time, much has changed in my life. I ended one career, and I am now attempting to start another. I also divorced, found a new relationship and moved to another state.
But a constant since 2002 has always been my love for the wild places. And the feeling of wildness that the High Sierra still held for me.
Walking John Muir’s Range of Light on my PCT thru-hike over fifteen years ago will always be a high watermark for my outdoor experiences. The vastness, the wildness, and the scenic beauty are still seared into my memory many years later.
When Andrew Skurka offered a chance to guide for two weeks in Yosemite, I readily agreed. I’d also have the opportunity to guide with the equally talented and passionate Dave Eitemilller and Brian Robinson.
After I dropped off Joan at Castle Crags, I joined the crew in Yosemite.
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Our road trip together ended this morning. @ramblinghemlock is now on her way for her ~500-mile section hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. … I am so happy to have this energetic, adventurous, and capable woman in my life. We won’t see each other again until I return from my trip sometime in late August. I already miss her. …. Now I am on my way to join Brian Robinson, @andrewskurka, and @thepathfinder in Yosemite. But as much as I like my colleagues, my favorite trip partner will always be a certain park ranger. 🙂 … #pct #pacificcresttrail #sectionhking #yosemitenationalpark #yosemite #nps #hiking #camping #backpacking
I spent a morning in Tuolumne Meadows, met up with the crew, and we spent an evening catching up and enjoying a brew or two.
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There would be three trips total (a three day, a five day, and a seven day) taking in parts of of the PCT and the Yosemite High Route that Andrew put together.
We’d ford creeks, go up snowy passes, rest by alpine lakes, enjoy the mountain sunsets, and explore the places off the beaten path.
And I’d meet people whom I suspect will now be friends.
The two weeks was a not a “paint by numbers” hike; we gave lessons in the field, scouted out routes, and (ideally) made it so people on this trip might have the skills and confidence to go on similar trips on their own.
The trips could be challenging at times with the terrain, weather, or difficult routes.
But, I read some Whitman one night, and Stanza 9 from Song of the Open Road seemed to resonate:
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first,
Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d,
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.
After two weeks in the High Sierra, and sharing a place with a fantastic group of people, I can honestly state the Sierra is where things more beautiful than mere words describe. Or photos.
Being surrounded by the mountains, sharing a laugh with fellow wilderness travelers, and having the privilege of sharing my passion for the wild places with others is a gift I’ll continue to cherish.