I Came to Yosemite Because I Had To

The following post is excerpted from a journal I wrote while on a trip to Yosemite in April of 2013. The photos were taken then as well. I hope the writing conveys the incredible beauty and power of the spot.

I came to Yosemite because I had to; I was dying inside—I needed to visit my mother, Sierra Madre.

She did not disappoint. I thanked God when I entered his country in the rolling cow pastures of Route 140 E leading to the mountains.

red-buds-by-river

At every turn, as we passed the cows and quaint, decaying barns, my spirit orgasmed anew at each unfolding landscape. The thrusting force of spirits too grand but to respect, striating a wall of multi-colored mosaic rectangles—often forming facades that look like elaborate entryways to posh buildings … And then as we fronted the river, I was awed over and over by the ebullient profusion of “Red Buds,” the deep magenta blossoms of the trees that I had never before observed in bloom. I breathed in deeply, trying to contain my bounding spirit within my body. This was BLISS.

All of this as an accompaniment to the white-capped, gray, and very swift Merced River, the breadth of its imminent stateliness unignorable …

bridalveil-falls-1

I love being up here. It’s away from everything. We discovered that our cell phones don’t even work here! After a great day in Yosemite Valley, we came back to our room in the late afternoon and tried the outdoor pool and Jacuzzi. The pool was COLD (as in unheated). I and a couple of kids 7 or under were the only ones who could stay in longer than 30 seconds (that was just about their limit). I did a good number of laps and then went into the burning hot spa. Then I went back into the pool to do more laps, and then back to the spa again. I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to swim in the beautiful mountain air, with the sound of a very full Merced River roaring close at hand.

bridalveil-falls-2

After breakfast at the lodge, we left for the Valley at about 9:00 a.m. As the weather report had predicted, it started to rain a few, big drops at the lodge before we left for our day’s adventures. Approaching the park, I tried to limit my landscape-gawking and picture-taking stops to 2 or 3. Even in the rain, I stuck my Canon Power Shot out the window, braving the raindrops on the lens, to try and capture just a hint of the glory of the Merced coursing its thunderous yet graceful path, white-tipped, past rocks and boulders in the gorge below.

fallen-log-w-forest-backgrd

Every feature of the surrounding roadside gave me spiritual ecstasy. I would say that I was on overload, but that would describe a state of excess or toxicity; this was more like bliss—like being reunited with everything I love, like coming home to the warm, loving bosom of my Sierra Madre, whose love is rapture, and who opens the souls and spirit to join with her beauty. Who heals above every other healer; whose truth, just in its very existence, is proof of the Great Spirit.

We arrived at Bridal Veil Falls at about 9:30 a.m. There was only one other vehicle in the parking lot near the glorified outhouses: a red sports car. The gently, yet persistent rain pelted us tenderly with wet, clammy kisses. I couldn’t help taking compulsive film clips of the water tumbling down from its 300-foot summit. With every few feet closer I approached, I felt the roar more loudly, and saw the mist shooting up more clearly as it smashed against the rocks below and vaporized.

Never had I seen the falls like this. The spring snowmelt is the most turgid and elemental event in the mountains.

Beauty here—reminding me of a spiritual experience I had at Multnomah Falls in Oregon’s Columbia River Valley on a walkabout I had made in my early 30s. Captivating, gentle, cultivated; a home for wood-nymphs and Native American girls with long, braided tresses, singing in the burbles of the stream. I felt their presence, though their voices melded with the soothing shushing of the water.

moss-by-river

We felt enclosed in a green sanctuary, safe, and invited to experience the beingness of the spot. The spirit sees as it feels, and the mind stops for a moment, as it hears that which does not speak. Wooed by the essence of love, every little drop, leaf, and branch became an expression of divinity.

We were the only ones approaching the crashing water. Even the ethereal mist that evolved from the chute seemed to speed downhill, caught up in the general thrust of the ponderous column’s momentum. We got as close to the base of the fall as we could, sprayed with heavy, wild mist that pelted harder than the rain. Looking up, I could see the gray and white rock-face, scarred on two sides of the fall with features cut into its surface. I saw two eyes, equally spaced around the waterfall: the great spirit of the falls had a face! New respect for its power was instilled in my soul.

leaf-on-ground close-up-of-bark

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Missed My Camera!

What a difference a lens makes. While I never claimed to be a professional photographer, I was really happy with my Canon Power Shot ELPH 110HS. I could point and shoot almost anywhere, and take decent videos, even with seemingly no light, and the lens would adjust to the light conditions, focus, and–voila! It zoomed from macro-like close-ups to a very wide angle. All I had to do was frame the shot. I LOVED that camera. It really seemed like an intelligent machine.

Then, on a family camping trip last July, the unthinkable happened: not respecting the delicacy of the viewscreen, I (or someone) cracked it. And then it stopped working. I was distraught. After three months of mourning, I brought it back to Best Buy. I had the 2-year warranty, after all. They, of course, no longer carried the same model, and I settled for another model, still Canon, still the ELPH line, but this time, it was the 130IS. The focus was not as clear, the lighting corrections not as agile, and the pictures just lacked a certain crispness. Then I found that it had a light leak: if shooting into or close to a strong light source (I always push the limits in getting an image), a vertical streak of white light would appear right through the picture. What a disappointment! Back to the store.

I finally decided to look for the 110HS online. I found one on eBay–brand new, reputable seller–and ordered it. I am back in business, getting great shots again, and feeling that all is right with the world again–at least as far as my photos are concerned.

This is a great camera for anyone who is artsy but doesn’t want to mess around with an SLR–all the learning, the time it takes to set up a shot, and the bulk. It is flexible, reliable, and infinitely portable. This model is the one. I feel like I’m reunited with my true love.

Pescadero

You get so caught up in the day to day.

and you know it’s time you got away,

so start rolling along down the highway…

Down Highway 1,

to Pescadero,

You never think about it,

but it’s always been there-oh.

[It’s no big deal–

just a few shops,

a couple churches,

and live outdoor music]

“What a pleasant surprise,”

as your mood starts to rise.

7/28/2013