“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” —John Muir
“Society speaks and all men listen, mountains speak and wise men listen.” –John Muir
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” ―John Muir
Over the years I have spent a good part of my life in the back country, hiking, fishing, camping. Since I have not been there for three years, since 2012, and after a surprise visit from a former hiking friend, an experience that was like tasting a small cookie that transports one back in time, I have been reflecting a lot about that other time and those experiences.
I looked through the photos I took of trips into the Sierra Nevada. It was like re-reading journal entries of times past. Dwelling on those moments made me want to re-live them. Wanting to re-live them made me grasp for those moments that had disappeared in my memory.
The French word sillage is a good word for the experience: it means “following in the wake of something; a slipstream; following in the footsteps.” It is a word for remembering small moments destined to be lost.
The following photographs represent a mélange of experiences from many spots in the Sierras, including from the John Muir Trail. I encourage you to take a moment and step through each one of them.
To view a slide show of the following photos, click on one of them and another screen will appear with arrows to slide the photos to the right and left.
I am going back into time a bit to the summer of 2011. A friend and I walked the John Muir Trail in the Sierras in California.
When a long time hiking friend stopped by the house to reminisce about a 2010 trip to Mt Whitney, I returned to my photo folders and started reminiscing about the following summer’s trip on the John Muir.
I had walked it several times in sections. After sorting through the pictures, I decided to feature me this time. But as one will quickly notice, the background is far more interesting.
Looking at these photos of myself against the background of the Sierras, it is hard to exclaim, “I am important, I am big, I am special.” No one is there to hear you, and the mountains mock your size and accomplishments and longevity. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
A former hiking friend came by the house the other day. We had not seen each other for five years. Our last hike was to the top of Mt Whitney in 2010.
We reminisced for awhile, sharing stories of hikes and trips each had done during the previous years. He had returned to the Sierras and to Mt Whitney again and taken a vacation to Hawaii.
I had hiked the John Muir Trail and le pèlerinage de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle and traveled to southern France several times. That conversation brought back a lot of fond hiking memories, and prompted me to find the photographs of our trip to the top of Mt. Whitney, the first time for the both of us. Another mutual friend went with us.
The most common and obvious route to the top of Mt Whitney is from the east by way of the Whitney Portal. One needs to apply for a permit in advance; they are hard to obtain.
Ken, Jerry, and I decided to approach from the west. We had not obtained a Mt Whitney permit, but we knew that we could get a permit that would allow us to hike two or three days to the base of the western flank of Mt Whitney. From there we could hike to the top. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.) But wait, there’s more!
Descending on the east side of Mt Whitney, one heads for the Whitney Portal eight miles away where a small cafe sells hamburgers and french fries and cold beer. From the Trail Crest at 13,600 feet one begins the first of 99 switchbacks that snake down a rock wall. But wait, there’s more!