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Autumn Wonder…

Per.Sempre.Josh.Fan.Jan's picture
on December 18, 2010 - 5:37pm

My latest trip to the Sierra Mountains for Thanksgiving was a spur of the moment thought; fortunately it was meant to be with landing a last minute reservation and perfect timing in-between unexpected winter storms. A surprising early winter storm had swept across the mountain range leaving three feet of fresh snow; a beautiful autumn-winter wonderland draped in heavy snow.

Meadows lay under a smooth blue and white blanket as if tucked in for the winter. Ice cycles with lengths ranging from inches long to several feet long resembling a pipe organ. Delicately spun thorns of frost cling to autumn branches. Colorful leaves are encased in a veil of white lace. Snow settled on every outcropping of the cliffs giving the granite walls a whole different 3D dimension.

The sun is low in the sky this time of year; most parts of the valley are kept shadowed by 3,000 ft high sheer cliffs. The forest that is fortunate to see sunshine warms quickly and the melting snow begins to slide off of the tree branches hitting the ground with a thud. Rock-slides can be heard; caused by the cold contracted granite and as it is warmed and when expanding it breaks away. As the granite cliffs warm, ice cycles also break free sounding like shattering glass when they tumble down.

Normally most of the waterfalls are dry in the autumn but the early storm filled them gushing with pristine Sierra water. After the water leaps over the three tiers of Yosemite Falls (2,425 feet), it freezes forming slush ice which clings among the boulders with only a winding narrow path of running water finding its way to the Merced River in the heart of the valley below. At times the force of the water hurls a boulder over the waterfall echoing across the valley as it crashes into the waterfall’s basin.

Half Dome at 8,842 ft high is the last monarch the sun touches, warming the cold slate gray granite of her face with colors of apricot, rose and burgundy before she turns gray again. And as the sun slips away for the night I can see her silhouette against the deep blue twilight sky. Stars begin to appear; slowly one at a time they pop into sight and then all of the sudden billions of them all bright and twinkling. The Milky Way is clearly seen as a wide band across the sky. The moon will rise in the wee hours of the night. The air is crisp and clean almost stinging as I breathe in.

On my third and last day, the second winter storm has arrived covering the rim of the valley. Time has paused in silence as morning brings a ghostly frost hanging over the meadows. Then the storm starts with the first few drops of rain which quickly turn to slush. Next snowflakes float in the air and within hours the snow has gradually increased to a heavy snowfall. I know the time to leave is near. I feel my friend (Yosemite) call me to stay; pulling at me to not go as he always does. It is difficult; I do not want to leave… but I must.

I make one more stop, step out of the car and walk to the river’s edge; the fresh snow squeaks with each step. Looking east, Bridalveil meadow rests on the south bank of the Merced River with a frozen Bridalveil Falls that seemingly clings to its hanging valley before taking the plunge. Across the river stands El Capitan; the guardian of the valley. While gazing across the scenery, I quietly listen to the river flowing. It dances to the tempo of “London Hymn” playing softly from my car and Josh singing peace to restless souls brings comfort and a perfect ending. As I absorb the last bit of energy that is offered, I close my eyes to give my thanks of appreciation, leave a gift for the ancestors and bid the valley goodbye.

I cherished every minute of my brief winter visit to my beloved valley, even a brief moment is a treasured moment. And of course, I took Josh with me; in heart and iPod. I can relate too many of Josh’s songs, but his new song hit home as he sang about how much New York City means to him; which is the same in what the valley means to me and what it is to be in the presents of the great spirit of Yosemite.

Yosemite is my heaven on earth and Josh is the voice and music that brings strength to my soul. Either one alone is a joy, but when I can bring them together… nothing else can compare and I am beyond happy. Who needs alcohol or drugs when there is such pleasure found in the raw beauty of nature and a kind soul blended with pure talent? To see this, to know this, to own this and experience it… feels amazing!

©2010 JR Autumn Wonder story
©2010 JR Autumn/Winter Yosemite Photographs

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