Tag Archive for 'Winter'

Sierra

Ansel Adams wrote in a time of grieving “Photographers and interpreters come and go, but few relate as closely to both the people and the natural scene. It is easy in this pompous age to scan the big things of the world and forget to see the small miracles of life around us; the morning light, the flowers, those intimate details of the world that combine to make it beautiful”.

The Sierra Mountains like the ocean tide that takes me out to sea are my temple, my place for peace and worship. Not different from people who spend Sunday mornings at church I go to nature to learn, to be inspired, to accept and understand there is more to life than me. I go to nature to see those small miracles and intimate details that make this world beautiful, seen during colorful sunrises and sunsets, in groves of giant sequoias, on granite peaks, blooming river banks and grassy meadows. Places like the Sierra Mountains touched by winter snowfall and a spring melt, full of life. Nature is my Church, my place for worship, my place to be touched spiritually, my understanding of god and the decent world we live in. Raised catholic, married by the Episcopal church, god father a priest, father and law a preacher, religion has always been part of my life someway or another. I am not sure of my religious beliefs, in my experience I give religion mixed reviews, but I do know when I go out into nature, places that my dad refers to as Gods Country I truly am touched.

I was introduced by my parents before a child could remember to the Sierra Nevada mountain range, home to nine National Forests, three National parks and two National Monuments and numerous small state parks, stretching from the Susan River in the north to Tehachpi Pass in the South. Bounded on the west by California’s Central Valley and on the east by the Basin and Range Province.  Running 400 miles north-to-south and 70 miles east-to-west. My childhood memories of this beautiful mountain range are as rich as the soils that bring it to life. Memories with family and friends swimming and skiing lake Tahoe, fishing and hiking the eastern mountains, viewing breathtaking waterfalls and secluded cold mountain lakes, climbing high peaks and strolling subalpine meadows. I could never thank my parents enough for showing me the beautiful world we live in and teaching me to respect and understand the awes of nature. We still enjoy nature together today. I continue to look forward to visiting my parents home and going on hikes with them along the coastal foothills, or our next trip to this beautiful mountain range named Sierra. It is with all these thoughts, and the knowledge of expecting to be a father, thinking how my wife Shiloh and I will raise our children I enter again into the High Sierra of the Sequoia National Forest.

view from trailhead camp 1st night

My friends and I embarked on a journey for experienced backcountry skiers under potentially dangerous, winter conditions to enjoy 3 nights 4 days of the snow covered peaks and valleys surrounding the Pear Lake ranger cabin available to the public from December to April each year. The trail offers the chance to explore the beautiful wilderness of the Sierra Nevada and allows you to sleep in a 10-person cabin with a wood burning stove, bunks and kitchen to cook food carried in.

We began our trip at 7,200 feet at the Wolverton trail parking lot where we spent the previous night camping and acclimatizing. On Thursday morning we ascended a steep six miles east to the Pear Lake area of 9,200 feet

off on our journey

we arrived at the hut and were joined by 6 others who made the trip out

All of your life someone is pointing the way, directing you this way and that, determining for you which road is best traveled. Here is your chance to find your own way. Don’t ask me how to get to McGee Canyon or Lake Double Eleven. Go, on your own. Be adventuresome. Don’t forever seek the easiest way. Take the way you find. Don’t demand trail signs and sturdy bridges. Don’t demand we show you the mountains. Seek them an find them yourself… This is your birthright as an animal, most commonly denied you. Be free enough from intentions to find goodness wherever you are and in whatever is happening. Here for once in your life you needn’t do anything. Be anywhere at a determined time, walk in a certain direction. You can now live by whim. Here is your one chance to get lost, find a beautiful place.” quote from a park ranger.

On the second day at the hut we left without plans where we were going to go, we were just going to see where the snow would take us. We headed up the Matterhorn then veered towards Tablelands. Surrounded by snow and mountains we would be happy wherever our tour would take us. The snow conditions where not fabulous, it had not snowed for several days, there was wind effected areas of ice, but if you paid attention there was plenty of fresh powdery snow to enjoy and even if there was not, who could not feel blessed being in such a beautiful place.

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view… where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you… beyond the next turning of the canyon walls” Edward Abbey, Benediction

From here I would separate from my party to explore by myself and enjoy the solitude, loneliness the mountains offer. I skied through Table canyons, along side the Matterhorn, down to Pear Lake turning to follow a powdery fluff of snow along a riverbank back to the hut. When I arrived to the hut the other party of 6 (not including us) were in a negative state, they did not find the good snow we had, and were not content with the beauty of the Sierra, they did not see the small details, possibly they did not understand their ancient surroundings. I talked with them, even told them where the good snow was but in the end their life lead them on another path, an early trip back home to the concrete jungle of Los Angeles.  I could not comprehend this, but who am I to judge, life takes people in different directions. We were now left with a hut and a winter playground all to ourselves. I could not complain.

Below is a spot that does not have a name on any map, we ended up calling it Eagles Nest, the perfect place to sit and watch the sunset before heading down soft fresh snow powder.

Waking the next day with the hut and mountains to ourselves there was only one thing we wanted to do.

I think this picture of Pear Lake describes it all

Back to Eagles Nest

The perfect last picture, sunset, hanging out on a mountain top

As this epic adventure concluded I leave the mountains feeling rejuvenated, happy and alive. There was only one thing missing from this trip, my beautiful wife at home with a baby in her womb, too pregnant to join me. I hope to bring them both here soon. My life will continue to lead me on many paths. I do not know what to expect fully being a father. I do know that as long as my wife and I take our daughter to our temples, our churches, places built over millions of years by the gradual changes of the earth and show her the beauty our parents have shown us, to teach her to love the small miracles of the world, to show her our love, we will be okay.

This story was written for Sierra Nicole Beckerley.