Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Leap of Faith – Part 2

- He who hesitates is lost!

- Look before you leap!

We all have made leaps of faith. Last week, a few families put their faith in the itinerary I devised for them for a day in Yosemite National Park. First, on the warm, sunny morning, they agreed to join me on an ascent of Pothole Dome; from the top of the white, granite monolith, green Tuolumne Meadows stretched out before us. Trusting me further, the families made their way down the north side of the dome, going cross-country, to reach a series of cascades that form where the Tuolumne River narrows into a collection of explosive cascades and quiet pools (and a few potholes just the right size to serve as bathtubs for small kids).

After we returned to camp and had lunch, the families drove their cars to Tenaya Lake, where they hung out at the beach for a while. Meanwhile, with storm clouds gathering to the east, and the sound of thunder rumbling repeatedly in our ears, I convinced Sam and Jean, who were helping me conduct the trip, to make a bike ride out to the lake and up beyond it, to Olmstead Point.

Prudence suggested we follow the families in our cars, or stay in camp and work on dinner. Yet I prevailed, suggesting that we would outrun the storm by riding west toward the lake, and by the time we would reach Olmstead Point, the storm would dissipate.

Highway 120 is a river of concrete flowing, unlike the Tuolumne River, both up and downhill. None of the grades are steep, and in just a little while we reached Olmstead Point, which offers a look at the "backside" of Half Dome. Tenaya Lake lies below the point, and beyond the lake are the granite domes and glaciated peaks that encircle Tuolumne Meadows. Much of the area toward the meadows, though, was barely visible; the storm clouds had gobbled up much of the view, and we could see the gray, gossamer sheets of rain that had to be soaking the pavement.

This was no ordinary, 20 minute, afternoon, Sierra Nevada thunderstorm. This was a genuine and prolonged deluge, which ultimately flooded the lower portion of the campground, flooding tents and rising well above the hubcaps on many vehicles.

Meanwhile, we were joined at the summit by the families in our group. Just as we were about to push off, one of the parents spotted a pick-up truck piloted by a park ranger. At the suggestion of the parent, the ranger offered us a ride back to Tuolumne Meadows, sparing us a good hour of riding in the rain.

The ranger called into headquarters that he was making a "visitor assist." No doubt his words were code for "dumb tourists."

I wanted to brave the elements, but probably more wisely, I chose to accompany Sam in the ranger's truck, while Jean returned to camp with one of the families. This was one leap from which I was willing to pull back.

We all make leaps of faith. What's one of yours?

Cameras: Nikon D60, Panasonic Lumix TZ 5, and an iPhone. Click on photographs to view larger versions.

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