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Guide to Tuolumne Meadows Trails (1960) by Allan Shields


AN INVITATION TO HIKE

For almost 100 years hikers have recognized Tuolumne Meadows as an ideal place in which to experience all the pleasures, satisfactions, and values of moving closer to nature. The unity of one’s very being seems to occur as if by magic through the simple device of presenting oneself to the region.

Though it is impossible to convey the full meaning of this common feeling, it can be said that there are many occasions when raw and lovely nature fairly forces herself on us. Glacial polish begs us to feel the shining, smooth surfaces of granite with our fingers. Flowers require us to hold up their heads for a closer inspection. Odors delight us—pennyroyal mint, the balsam of red fir, the strong savor of wild onions, the sweet scent of a broken leaf of laborador tea bush — all convey sensations so inherently exciting that we want to share them with others. The tastes of the clear, cold waters of high mountain streams and lakes, of the needles of lodgepole pine or whitebark pine, of the seed of the whitebark pine, flavorful to the Clark’s nutcracker, Sierra chickaree and human beings alike, help us to feel and learn the keen varieties of nature. The sounds of wind and water, the call of Clark’s nutcracker, the chatter of chickaree, the whistle of Belding ground squirrel and the clop-clop of some camper chopping wood are all easily forgotten when we leave, but quicken our senses when we return to them.

Visions of rugged mountain formations delight us. The Range of Light (the Sierra Nevada) creates textures and colors that artists constantly find inspiring. A standing dead tree displays a spectrum of grays, browns, reds and blacks; the Clark, Range exhibits its own palette of colors. Summer thunderstorms, nature’s overtures to the next seasonal act, compel our attention to the parts of the whole display which in retrospect we put together as a unity and make the lesson a part of ourselves.

Just as a camera must be selective, and can, at its realistic best, simply create a potential and vicarious experience, language such as this can do no more than invite participation in the direct experience. That alone can effect the conviction of unity. It is required of us that we get out of our cars, out of the campground, even, at times, off the trail, before we can truly and humbly present ourselves to Nature. We need to hike!

Western White Pine. McCrary, NPS
[click to enlarge]
Western White Pine

    McCrary, NPS


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