Toddling in John Muir’s footsteps

One day, perhaps, I shall arrive in Yosemite during daylight, and really experience the drive into the valley. This time, as last time, I arrived in darkness - seeing nothing beyond the road ahead picked out in the car’s headlights. Yet in some ways this is the ideal way to experience the valley - to simply awake the next day and find it’s just there, all around you, as if it had been constructed overnight for your benefit. To walk outside the door first thing in the morning, to be suddenly in the middle of it, surrounding by that overwhelming landscape, is a magical experience in itself. To be there at all is to feel yourself to be a supremely lucky person. But to be staying with someone who lives and works in the valley - well!

Last year I had only one morning free, so took a short walk to Columbia Rock. I say short, but it took me two-and-a-half hours to get there. But only just over half an hour to get back down to my meeting. This time I had more free time to explore, but I thought I would ease myself into things by first taking a look at the Yosemite Museum. Once again it was the time for the Yosemite Renaissance exhibition. Last year there were a couple of wonderful textile pieces by Bonnie Peterson - one of which won the first prize. This year, well, perhaps there is a theme emerging, as it was a large textile piece that won first prize again - and very nice it was too.

After that, and having prepared a lunch to take with me of almost Muirean sparseness - two small pieces of bread and butter and a flask of water - I took the trail round Mirror Lake. I will admit that as I walked the path I occasionally laughed out loud at the thought that my job could bring me to such a beautiful place. But don’t worry, I was punished later.

The Mirror Lake trail is pretty flat and just circles the lake (which was pretty low so much of the area was already in “summer meadow” mode), but it’s a pretty location in its own right. What makes it spectacular is its location under Half Dome. To lie down in the meadow in the warmth of a Spring sun and look up at that enormous lump of granite looming over you - who could ask for more?

If you’re wondering about the punishment - I left my black woolly hat at Shuttle Stop 17. I put it on the seat beside me, and when the bus came I got up and left it there. Unfortunately, it wasn’t there when I came back to look, nor was it handed in to ‘Lost and found’ (as Americans call “Lost Property”). Oh well. No great loss I suppose - but it was a hat I bought in New Zealand, so I was sentimentally attached to it. Rats.

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