Hiking Mammoth Lakes

“You could see pines reflected upsidedown in the lake pointing to infinity.  Late afternoon I lay in the grass with all that glory before me and grew a little bored and thought ‘There’s nothing there because I don’t care.'”

                                 –Jack Kerouac
                                    The Dharma Bums

Lake George lays nestled in the pines below me.  I am sitting on a boulder just off the trail. To the west, the distant peaks have little snow patches tucked in their crags–remnants of last winter.  On one of the peaks there is fresh snow.  The seasonal cyle is renewed.  The air is crisp and cold.  Cheddar cheese and wheat crackers are my body’s fuel while the alpine lake and 10,000 foot mountains fuel my soul.

It is Labor Day weekend.  I am not laboring. 

Mammoth Lakes, California is my adventure this weekend.  In winter, this place is bustling on the weekends with skiers. They say Mammoth is a step down from Lake Tahoe, but I still see lots of money and capital here.

Whatever it be, I’m here to experience the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.  If one was to go due west of here, they would stumble upon Yosemite National Park.  Stumbling they would go, for the terrain is rugged in the Eastern High Sierras.

When I left Ridgecrest, located in the High Mojave Desert, around 4:00 in the afternoon, the temperature was somewhere around 92 degrees.  When I arrrived at Shakey’s Pizza some 3 hours later and 7000 feet higher, I was warmly greeted by a chilly autumnal temp of 42 degrees.  The cold air on my face was like an early December snow in Pennsylvania, fitting to the environs.

The sky light is beginning to fade.  I want to move on and see Crystal Lake before heading back down the mountain. 

I go walking…

Crystal Lake seems a bit secluded, although it is not really as such because the trail leads to here.  It is very cold along the shore.  A heavy, light gray cloud is slowly sliding down the ridge on the far side of the lake.  It looks like Old Man Winter.  I am shivering a little.  I have another layer in my pack, but opt to not pull it out.  I am more alive when I allow myself to feel the elements of nature. From the Earth we are created…

Tomorrow will find me hiking Devil’s Postpile National Monument.  A geologic wonder consisting of bluish-gray basalt columns, some reaching as high as 60 feet, take residence there. 

I’ll see the San Joaquin River as it plummets more than a hundred feet into a pool below, causing it to create an arch of beautiful colors in its mist and, in-so-doing, live up to its name, Rainbow Falls.

My feet will tread lightly on the John Muir Trail, named for a man of great admiration in this part, and many other parts, of the world. He loved the Sierras so much, and was able to recognize the need to preserve their beauty, that in 1892 he organized a group called The Sierra Club.

And in the evening, my feet tired and my body wanting to rest, I will smile in the satisfaction of knowing that there are many more days to be spent in the Sierras.  There will be more vistas to ponder, more trails to walk, more mountains to climb…

Happy are the days passed in the forest.

Crystal Lake is to my back, but I keep it in my mind as I begin down the mountain.  It is beautiful here.  The alpine lakes have me speechless.  They are peaceful in their placidity.  They emanate whole-ness.  Deep blue in color, a grand mirror that reflects the mystery of Being, their subtlety stirs me into a calming place within the limitless boundaries of life.

I walk with all of us.


(written 17 September 2000)

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