White Ranch Park
I arrive at the Rawhide Loop Trailhead shortly before sunrise. The sky glows with predawn light. Scalloped contours of the landscape encircle my view, but I’m unable to distinguish any of the details in the foreground. I close my eyes for a moment and try to clear my head. The preceding workweek was stressful, disorganized, exhausting. To make matters worse, recent news cycles hit new, alarming lows. I’ve not yet been able to process it all, to put any of it aside. Unfortunately, these days I often carry a multitude of worries into weekends and onto trails. I’m hoping to suspend that habit today though. My first hike with the Colorado Mountain Club starts in an hour and I’d like to properly enjoy it.
I survey the parking lot. There are two other cars parked nearby. Their occupants must already be on the trail—running, hiking, or biking. How does anyone find the mental clarity required to get on the trails so early? I linger in my car, sorting through gear in my backpack. I grab a handful of granola and toss it in my mouth. As the sky lightens it glows with increasing intensity—clouds turn from grey to purple, then to pink. I pull my woolen hat down over my ears and zip up my puffy jacket. As I step out of the car, the cold air makes me tense for a moment. I start to walk, following a short trail across the grassy hilltop. The light is changing faster now, growing brighter every second. I take some photographs of the lenticular clouds as they dissipate, evaporate, vanish.
It seems strange that visitors to Yosemite should be so little influenced by its novel grandeur as if their eyes were bandaged and their ears stopped. Most of those I saw yesterday were looking down as if wholly unconscious of anything going on about them, while the sublime rocks were trembling with the tones of the mighty chanting congregation of waters gathered from all the mountains round about, making music that might draw angels out of heaven.~ John Muir, Nature Writings, p. 263