Day 7: Cooking, Biking, and Sketching
My alarm is set for 5:40am. My first job in the morning is to put two pots of coffee on the stove. We promise our volunteers coffee by 6:15, and breakfast by 7. My eyes open at 5:25. The sun is already up but hasn’t started to warm the floor of the valley yet. From my tent, it is about a thousand feet to the vault toilet, and then another thousand feet back to the bear locker where my toothbrush and toothpaste are stored. Then about twenty feet to the hand washing station set up near the kitchen.
The menu for today’s breakfast is bacon and French toast. Mary Lou takes charge of the bacon. I am in charge of the French toast. I crack ten eggs into a stainless steel bowl the size of a restaurant wok. Our supplies are stored inside a trailer which is dark at this time of day. We are still not totally familiar with the contents of the five different coolers with perishable items, so I am often opening and closing all five before I locate the one ingredient I need. Continue reading
Day 6: Do It For The Cheeseburgers!
“Do it for the cheeseburgers!” is our mantra for the last day’s hike from Indian Ridge to our car on Tioga Road. We have adapted it from our biking mantra for the 40-mile round trip ride from our home in Half Moon Bay to Duarte’s in Pescadero, where we “Do it for the pie!”. Olallieberry pie, to be exact. A la mode. After the artichoke-green chili soup and warm sourdough bread with butter.
Having a goal in mind helps on the steep uphill climbs. When the idea of “conquering” a hill is just not enough to get the legs going, doing it for the pie sometimes will.
In this case, it is the thought of a cheeseburger from the Tuolumne Meadows grill, another twenty miles or so down Tioga Road from where our car is parked.
But first, there is the climb. Continue reading
Day 5: Dream Campsite on Indian Ridge
Our packs are getting lighter, I think. The ratio of food to garbage in our bear canisters has finally reached the tipping point of more garbage than food. These are the signs that we are nearing the end of our trip.
Our final night is spent on Indian Ridge, overlooking North Dome, with views stretching from Clouds Rest to Half Dome and all the way down the Valley to Eagle Rock and Three Brothers.
We score the campsite I had spotted on our first night, when we headed down to the creek for water. It is the most luxurious space of all the sites so far. Perched at the apex of the ridge, there are two Ponderosa pines positioned perfectly for sitting and enjoying the outstretched views of Half Dome and Clouds Rest. Two clusters of low madrone bushes provide some privacy from both the trail to North Dome and the rest of the ridge descending down toward the Valley. Three separate living spaces are defined by the borders of the madrones, the rocks, and the trees.
The wildlife show here consists of alpine chipmunks, which crisscross the trail and hop from one rock to the next, then disappear in the madrone bushes. Continue reading
Day 4: Sherpa Steps to El Capitan
The nosebleeds started three years ago, on our backpacking trip from Tenaya Lake to Clouds Rest to Little Yosemite Valley. That was another case of trying to go light by carrying less water, and sleeping at a high altitude. Ever since then, Randy has brought a kit of supplies with him to deal with sudden nosebleeds in the wilderness. I pass the time by theorizing about the causes and possible remedies – not of the symptom of having nosebleeds, but of the determining factors.
I contemplate the mystery of how the blood vessel constricting effects of the pseudoephedrine in Claritin-D could paradoxically promote bleeding. I wonder if the drying effect of the antihistamine in Claritin is too much in the already dry alpine air. I blame coffee, wine, and not enough electrolytes. I wonder if he should have done a sinus rinse using water taken from the creek. I even imagine how it would be possible, on future trips, to bring distilled water to do sinus rinses in the backcountry.
These are the things that go through my head as his nose is bleeding in the middle of the night. I also note, with some mixture of horror and pride at the accuracy of my self-assessment, that this is the kind of parent I would be, if I were to become one — an analyzer, a fixer of things. I am not a natural when it comes to providing pure comfort and soothing presence. My mind is usually too busy understanding “why”. Any abilities I now have in the area of healing and calming presence I have acquired from many days, weeks, and months of attending workshops and retreats and practice. Continue reading
Day 3: Arriving at Yosemite Creek
Before there is “arriving”, there is “getting there”. On North Dome, I am feeling unmotivated to get out the skillet and and do dishes in the morning. So we go with a very light breakfast. Perhaps too light. It is a granola with milk and blueberries dehydrated meal from Backpackers’ Pantry. Delicious and satisfying, but probably low on protein.
We leave North Dome at around 8am. I already know where the first creek is, so the day’s agenda is a matter of passing that creek, then Lehamite Creek, then cresting the ridge at Yosemite Point, and making the descent to Yosemite Creek, followed by a short ascent to our hidden campsite just above Yosemite Falls. Continue reading
Day 2: Entering Wilderness (AFTER Seeing A Bear!)
I wake up early, mainly because I am cold. I didn’t think to bring my beanie or gloves (because July!), but I am wishing for them in the morning. I pull on some wool socks and slip on my Chacos instead of putting bare feet into flip flops. As I am tooling around camp, I notice a round, peach-colored glow from behind the trees. It is the moon set. And it is full. Could it be that we accidentally scheduled our backpacking trip for North Dome on the night of the Full Moon?
Yes. Yes we did. Continue reading
I just returned from an epic 12-day journey, my longest continuous stay so far, in Yosemite National Park. First night (a Tuesday in July) at Crane Flat Campground — lucky to get the one open campsite reservation online. Next five days/four nights in the backcountry. Entering at Porcupine Creek trailhead, camping on North Dome, then top of Yosemite Falls with a day hike to El Capitan, then back to Indian Ridge (near North Dome) for the final night. The final seven days were spent in Yosemite Valley Yellow Pines campground as volunteers with Yosemite Conservancy. This was our fifth year of service as volunteers with YC, and my first time as Assistant Cook, helping with preparation of hot breakfasts and dinners for the work crew of twelve volunteers all week long. I loved it!
I have just finished gathering and photographing/scanning all of the art images I created during my twelve days. A total of forty-six images, each with a mini story that will allow me to retrace my steps, one day at a time, and share each episode with you, in twelve, bite-sized portions. Each post will go up at 10:00am Pacific Time. At the end of the twelve days of posting, I will post the entire body of work on the front page of this website, as one project.
In the meantime, sit back and take a walk with me through one of our nation’s finest treasures. Continue reading
Today I cracked open a new Moleskine notebook – the small watercolor album. I’ve never used it before, but there is liberation in a small blank page.
I sat with a piece of seaweed in front of me on the beach, and was able to take the time to let each layer of paint dry, adding more layers until I found the olive green-brown that satisfied me.
Today my gift from the sea was the chance to pay attention to the way colors mix on a page. And to sit for long enough to feel the quality of the ocean’s embrace. I was inspired to jot these words down too:
She approaches with a low rumble
as if a stampede of galloping hooves roll in
from the horizon.
She rolls and curls
and like many gentle fingers
she envelopes with a
Soft yet definite
holding the power
to move boulders
grain by grain
of our brief time here.
Today – Friday, June 3, 2016
Check out more of my journey in sketches on Miramar Beach in this gallery.
Rainy day. This morning before I sat down to draw, I picked up my copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I received my paperback copy in 1993, as a high school graduation gift. She was an actress; he was a university chemistry professor and my dad’s PhD advisor. Both of them came to my graduation ceremony, as they were good friends of my parents and had no children of their own.