Monday, August 30, 2010

Notes from North Yosemite

Along the trail to Laurel Lake


with the back pack

leaned against a tree

in a shadowed stand of pines

beside a mountain meadow

filled with wild flowers

and fern.

We’ve bitten off a real challenge this time.

Wind rushes the needled limbs

and looses a dead cone that falls

from a lifeless top

to a thud

and burst of sun-lit dust

that glows

in its slow return

to the earth.

Between here and there

an orange and black butterfly


across the trail.


Below Vernon Lake

We camp just off Falls Creek

in a slight semi-circle of small ponderosa pines

and a single western juniper, surrounded by miles

of scrape and moraine

--high sierra granite--

all of us held to this rock

by the same pull, each of us

giving all we have

to be here.

The steep ascent

and ten rugged miles

keeps the lake’s numbers of visitors low

but this trail-less stretch of stream demands more

and sees few beyond its long-time residents

--bear, rattler, rainbow trout.

Followed down stream,

its cuts and crevices, falls and bowls, gorges and pools,

the work of hundreds of years, thousands,

all still underway.

There’s intimacy here,

borne by the water, the light and the air,

a shared bond with the granite

that carries a message of passage,

of acceptance through participation

in a larger work

that reveals

a glistening streak of grace

in responsibility,

that speaks not of obligation,

but of responsiveness

and of care.


On any mountain

at some point,

no matter the company,

it all comes down to you

on the mountain,

on its terms.

Oh, I do not climb, just walk,

but even then, over and again, I arrive at that place

of listening--me listening

to my response

to the mountain’s entreaty--

without words,

through an inconceivable, yet somehow completely received

multitude of signals,

a totality of unmistakable, and yes, unavoidable


that both overwhelms and embraces,

completely diminishes

and simultaneously offers

horizon-less possibilities

of unspeakable


To respond repeatedly to the repeated call, these,

the movements of love,

where those who demur

may clearly articulate their many doubts,

but those of us who respond, cannot

adequately explain, except,

perhaps to point.