Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Blessings of Tuolumne

Stellar's jay morning, squawking to the rising sun. Out of tent and dive into hot cocoa in tea. Talk of stories in the early morning sun that slowly warms the mountains. Everyday a view of the breathtaking Lembert Dome and sprinkles of the rushing Tuolumne River. Two friends sketching by the water, capturing in color what's in their heart. Tubing. Catch and releasing baby trout. Two friends laughing and reminiscing, basking in their love for Tuolumne Meadows.

A perfect place then and now.

An ascent to Gaylor Lake. Alpine drops, deep basins of granite and shale, spongy grass and a few seagulls soaring over the water, and in the reflection, he floats on the grayish, blue ripples. Collecting butterfly wings and wildflowers-- Indian Paintbrush, Alpine Daisies and Ranger Buttons. Surrounded by an army of peaks. A bounty of beauty. 

Push hard up to Hoffman, sun baked and tired. Lessons of overcoming obstacles. Believing you can do more than you think. Marmot, marmots, everywhere! The view is a payoff, as you become a fleck of dust in such a vast universe. Jingle with the ghost of a tambourin on the descent. 

Tuolumne Meadows at sunset after a mountain rain. Golden glow sparks into pink and orange and purple. Following deer and stars. Breathing it all in. Enough to chill my soul with dazzling blessings of being a live.

I am blessed with a life-long friend and the love we share for this place.

Thank you again, Tuolumne Meadows.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


There are places you visit in your lifetime that leave mark on your heart. A time and a place that cannot be erased. Cannot be denied. It's at the center of these places that we often discover again where we've been, who we are, and what we want to be.

Tuolumne Meadows.

My first rock climb, meadow crossing, hot springs, and impression of the glowing Cassiopeia in the sky. Tuolumne has meant so many things to me for so many years. And the gifts continue.

I retrace the steps I took five years ago on the Glen Aulin trail with a two-year-old girl on my back and memories of my dog, Mo, tucked away in my heart. Together, we search for just the right spot to mark her remembrance. The late August afternoon brings sweat upon my back, achy legs, and an anticipation of letting go of someone so interwoven in my life.

As we cross glacial mountains, pure mountain emerald streams, and shaded deer paths, the perfect place opened up to us. We named it Mo rock. Over the small falls, we released our memories of her: our countless treks to the Sierras, the rocks and trees she climbed alongside me. Mo wasn't just my first dog, but my best friend. In her honor, we splashed in the water, tossed sticks, and ate lunch along the bank. Her perfect day.

And now, five years later, I find myself right back there with her. Everywhere I looked, I feel pieces of my dog, my compadre, hidden under rocks, in whistling pine needles, and running through the veins of every tree. With each step along that trail, my goals in life become more clear. It's not to leave a grand legacy behind me, but to leave tiny pieces of myself in many places. Bits and remnants of where I've been, who I am, and what I want to be all over the world.

Just like Mo. Over five years later, she's still teaching me.

So once again, I share the trail with friends. Awed by the beauty. Peacefulness. Power.

Welcoming in all the pieces of Tuolumne Meadows that add up to perfection.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

So rich and textured, I'm ready to jump in...

Day 3--early morning drive. I bow down to one of those breathtaking sunrises, the kind I haven't seen since I was in Tsavo three years ago. Breathe....

Right away, the 111 on the rear end of the impala flashes before us--the easiest way to ID them-another Lilac Breasted Roller--such soft, pastels to compliment the early morning sky. A kneeling mother warthog nurses her babies, and this makes even the old mama look absolutely tender.

A gorgeous female lion with her cubs. They nurse, and she's seems in absolute peace--even with us spying on this delicate moment. The cubs finish, and she gets to take a stretch. I think I still lose my breathe every time I see a lion up close. I struggle to describe the feeling of being in the presence of such a burly, yet regal beast. She's AMAZING! The cubs wake up, roll around, and y...a....w....n!

There's a bit of action this morning. A lone wildebeest runs across the savannah, then out of nowhere, a hyena takes off after him. The wildebeest zig-zags across the grass, looking over his shoulder at his assailant as they disappear off into the horizon. Most likely, the wildebeest got away, even though it's usually a death sentence for one to be separated from the herd. A little jackal decides to harass a crested crane--who's about four times his size. He annoys the bird, but it doesn't go much further! We finally spot al eland--biggest gazelle in Africa. Such a solid, grand animal--but it has the strength to even lead over a car!

On our drive that night, it's a long ride into another part of the Mara we've never been. Our driver, Dennis, doesn't say anything, but we think he's heading for something special out here. Then we see it! A dead impala, ribcage opened, hanging from an acacia tree. Leopard! (Leopard are the only cats that drag their prey up a tree using their strong jaws. They can eat it for a week--even if the carcass is full of maggots.) The tree is surrounded by other vehicles, but eventually, we spot the sleek animal. It's a mother and her cub. The baby climbs up the tree to give us great photo opp. They are royal and mysterious, like the lion, and we wish we could stay all day.

It's such a calm drive. Light clouds in the sky, the red road before us. Then nature gives us another gift--double rainbow! (no, i'm not going to do the double-rainbow dance, sorry!) But is is sacred and welcoming, and a beautiful way to say farewell. Looking out into the vast savannah, accompanied with the movement of the vehicle, puts me at complete peace--almost like I'm gazing into an endless sea.

Dinner that night is perfection. Another scrumptious soup (this time, butternut squash,) plus mandazi bread filled with veggies, and our chipati bread once again. And don't forget the hot chocolate and chai! It's been an incredible 3 days. We miss our families, and are ready for home. But not easy to say goodbye to such a miraculous place.

That night, we're sent off with an incredible lightening storm. Explosions of electricity in the black, black sky shock and thrill us. Before it all hits, Nicola is able to get a few gorgeous shots of the sky. So rich and textured, I'm ready to jump right in. (thank you Nic, for sharing your photographic patience and talent!)

The sounds and lights are a perfect way to celebrate all we've seen, all we've done, all we hope to do.

Thank you sky. Thank land. Thank you rain and light.

Kenya. We will be back.

My non-profit is in the works! Keep you posted!