Welcome to my Wilderness Journal

You may enjoy my September 2012 blog: Sharing Experiences of Great Mystery, which describes the purpose of this wilderness log, photo-art gallery, and poetry corner. In Peace, Bob

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Yosemite: The Sliding Rock of Glen Aulin

Glen Aulin Panorama © Bob Hare 2012

Journal Entry: August 14, 2012, Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, 
Yosemite National Park, California Elevation 7840'

Trail to Waterwheel Falls with Sliding Rock Amphitheater to right © Bob Hare 2012

I traversed from east to west across the top third of a huge glacial amphitheater sloping like an ancient Greek theater into the Tuolumne River below Glen Aulin and its falls. This is my favorite kind of wilderness walking-- wide panoramas, smooth granite, steep slopes but just enough bite for my lug-soled boots to keep me upright. I do like walking on the edge. 

I came looking for junipers but my eye caught a large rock fragment suspended on the far side of the amphitheater slope. Above the rock was what actually captured my attention--a distinct white track. I knew I had found a big slider.

Amphitheater below Glen Aulin Point (Sliding Rock is speck at far edge) © Bob Hare 2012

Like a jet taking the polar route from London to San Francisco, I traced a curving arc (in this case a concave arc) across the smooth amphitheater's granite wall and intersected the nearly car-sized slab without gaining or losing any elevation. I saw as I approached the rock that the white line was indeed a gouged-out grove in the slick granite—about twenty-five feet in length. 

Sliding Rock with gouge track © Bob Hare 2012

This was a large-scale version of what I had seen on Boulder Boulevard near Tenaya Lake in May of last year. There I discovered stones that had left foot-long tracings of their own bodies on the slick glaciated slopes. It was as if someone had used the stones like chalk to draw lines on the glacial pavement. 

Stone Sliders and rock dust tracks at Boulder Boulevard © Bob Hare 2012

But it was different with this large granite rock exfoliated from some shelf above me. The ponderous slab gouged out a groove in the pavement yielding very little of itself as rock dust in the movement. In both cases the mover would seem to be the winter's thick mantle of heavy snow lubricated by spring melting that yearly edges these rocks down their steep smooth slopes.  

Each Sierran winter is like a miniature return of the Ice Age and each spring thaw is like the retreat of the glaciers that blanketed the entire range. Similarly, these sliding rocks, whether large or small, are functioning like the rocks embedded at the bottom of the Ice Age glaciers which provided the "sandpaper" that smoothed and polished the granite domes, aprons, and amphitheaters we see today. 

This slider has great presence, balance, and poise while yet being tensed with great conflicting forces of gravity, resistance, and inertia. If the slope were less steep it might take an avalanche to move it downslope. If the slope were steeper it would probably slide and tumble down in a single run. 

The slider may be engaged in an annual dance of perhaps centuries moving down to the river in spring spurts while resting in place the rest of the year. But, the fact that the gouged groove in the bedrock is relatively fresh-looking and also continuous makes me think this slider slid those twenty-something feet in a few weeks during the snowmelt from the record snowfall of 2011.

I imagine that John Muir explored this amphitheater during his many explorations of the Tuolumne Canyon and possibly discovered this same sliding rock higher up than now. I should have left a marker and checked back on its movement next spring. Muir did this with glaciers to mark their movement.

Bruised Lodgepoles below Glen Aulin Cascade © Bob Hare 2012

Our minds try to interpret the world as a collection of separate stable objects but Nature keeps showing us there are no isolated or fixed objects but only interacting temporary agents in process and change. Everywhere about I saw evidence of change and interaction…matter and life in motion and transformation. All are measures of time and forces great and small...Nature’s rhythms and currents. White Cascade thundering outside our tent without letup night and day. A curious “bruised forest” of lodgepole pines a good thirty feet from the river battered about four feet above their roots by logs ramming them during the powerful overflow of the Tuolumne River in spring snowmelt. Like the sliding rock track, this tree bruising was likely from the record-breaking snows and runoff of 2011. It was a big year that left its marks all over the Sierras.

Bark beetle tracings at Glen Aulin © Bob Hare 2012

Woodpecker holes in dead trees riddled with the tracings of bark beetle larvae. Glacial chatter and striation marks on the granite bedrock from 10,000 years ago. Such a brief human candlelight life we have. Yet how glorious the eternal awareness that lights our candles!

My lovely niece and my climbing partner for the last 40 years at Glen Aulin © Bob Hare 2012

Cathedral Peak from Glen Aulin Point © Bob Hare 2012

May all Beings be well, happy, and free. May you walk in Great Beauty! Yours in peace, Bob

Note: Unless attributed to other sources all text, poems, photographs and artwork in this blog and other blogs entitled "Wilderness Adventures with Bob Hare" are copyrighted © 2012 by Bob Hare. The phrase "Wilderness Adventures with Bob Hare" is a trademark of Bob Hare.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sombrero Galaxy: Seeing the Supreme by the Supreme


"Thus the soul is unlit without that vision; but lit thereby, it possesses what it sought. And this is the true end set before the soul, to take that light, to see the Supreme by the Supreme and not by any other light than that by which it sees; for That by which the illumination comes is That which is to be seen, just as we do not see the sun by light other than its own. But how is this to be accomplished? Let all else go!" -- Plotinus

Internet Image

In May 1996 I was attending the wedding of a couple who lived and worked at the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton 4,200 feet above Silicon Valley's South San Francisco Bay. After the outdoor ceremony and reception we were allowed entry into the 1887-completed dome observatory that houses the 36" refracting Lick Telescope, as well as the body of James Lick who was the observatory's benefactor and lies entombed beneath his telescope. In 1887 this was the largest telescope in the world and the first ever sited permanently on a mountaintop. 

Today's Bay Area light pollution and 125 years of technological advancement has made this telescope more a historical relic than a cutting-edge scientific instrument. But as I was to discover this artifact of another age can open one's eyes to a universe of wonder. There is a world of difference between seeing a beautiful photograph of the Sombrero Galaxy and being stunned by the immediate Presence of 40 million-year-old light falling directly on your retina from the living galaxy.  

Internet Image
Internet Image

Poem-Journal: Sombrero Galaxy, Lick Observatory, May 19, 1996

I circumambulate the observatory catwalk in dim red light
            under the parted dome and projected telescope
                        preparing my eyes and mind for seeing
                                    40 million year old light.

Through the eyepiece I see
            a spiral galaxy - edge on
                        the nuclear fire of billions of circling suns
                                    flashed across 40 million light years
                                                from wherever they were then
                                                            to wherever we are now.

Whose eye now sees this fossil light of billions of worlds
            that may have burnt out long ago?
How can anyone grasp something so immense
            so far away in space and in time?
Like a paramecium on a microscope slide
            a long-gone galaxy’s shimmering light
                        forms a living image on my retina.

Now I know what Plato meant when he said
            the eye is as great as the Sun
                        because the eye can hold the Sun.

I could dismiss this vision as a curious thing to have seen
            or I could give up being an orphan in this Universe.

Am I ready to accept that I am born of this wonder?
That I am not looking through this eye, through this lens, at this galaxy
            but as this one Light connects galaxy, telescope and eye
                        I am this seeing,
                                    I am this eye,
                                                I am this lens,
                                                            I am this galaxy.

The Mind that conceived this telescope
            that remembers billions of worlds as they were millions of years ago
The Mind that conceived this eye
            that is looking now at these worlds
The Mind that conceived these worlds
            that illumine this eye
This Mind holds you and I and these worlds
            and you and I and these worlds are That!


Dolphin Pentacle with Spiral Galaxy, 1977 Scratchboard © Bob Hare 2012

Journal Update: October 25, 2012, Elk Grove, California

The greatest wilderness is the multi-dimensional Cosmic Ocean that our tiny Spaceship Earth floats and spins within. When I lie out under a High Sierran night sky with the brilliant Milky Way stretching from mountain horizon to mountain horizon I know there is nothing separating me from the Infinite. Twenty-nine year-old John Muir had this revelation on his 1867 Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf of Mexico as evidenced by the inscription he put on the inside cover of his journal, “John Muir, Earth-planet, Universe.”

We are all cosmic voyagers in Infinity and Eternity and the cosmos lives within us as well as around us. We are on the greatest voyage of discovery as we awaken, individually and collectively, to who we are and discover how we arrived here, where we are heading, and what is going on around us. 

Out of Great Mystery springs this ever-expanding physical universe of cosmic energy which coalesces into physical elements which organize into galaxies of stars in which elements evolve and which form the planets. And of the billions of planets in the Universe we know that Life has emerged on at least this one blue water-covered marble we call Home-Earth. 

Life evolves into sentient beings which evolve over billions of years into greater consciousness. And in a few species self-consciousness emerges. The most self-aware species we know of is the human individual (with the teen-age human being the most self-conscious!).

The amazing opportunity of human self-awareness is that we can become aware that we are the eyes, mind, heart, and soul of this Universe. We can further the Universe's evolution by transcending (and integrating) our limiting ego consciousness. We can realize that the light of consciousness that illumines my thoughts is the same light of awareness that flows through and animates all things and beings. One essential Spirit-Life-Force shows up differently according to each species' capacity (such as ant-awareness, ant-eater awareness, and dolphin awareness). All beings have the same essential Being but different expressions of the One Being.

This Great Mystery of Being precedes and transcends this universe. Scientific cosmologists tell us that the "Big Bang" birth of the universe exploded 13.7 billion years ago from a point with no dimension and before time called the "singularity." This infinite and timeless Potential gave birth to all the energy, matter, and spacetime that make up this universe as well as the evolutionary order that has been unfolding in beauty and power for these last 13.7 billion years.  

This mysterious singularity seems to have all the transcendent "immeasurables" traditionally associated with deity, namely omnipotence (the source of all matter and energy), infinity (occupying no defined space yet being the source of all expanding space), eternity (occupying no defined time yet being the source of all time-change-process), and omniscience (being the source of 13.7 years of ongoing orderly and perfectly unfolding physical-biological-consciousness evolution). The singularity is just another name for Great Spirit-Great Mystery. The great mystery of the pre-Big Bang singularity is where the measured science of the outer world meets the immeasurable Being of the inner spiritual world. These two realms of experience and inquiry are ultimately one and the same Reality seen from two seemingly different perspectives. Uniting these inner-outer realms is Plotinus' Supreme which can never be measured or photographed by science but which can be directly experienced. 

To join John Muir as a citizen of the universe we must give up the ego's idea that my individual awareness is a unique one-time creation that must struggle against the universe to avoid extinction. In its place we discover that the essence of my awareness is universal and eternal. This unborn and never-dying Essence is the One Light of Awareness that sees through all eyes and minds and is the same Source and Mover of all things.

The chaos in our world today indicates that we are struggling to make this huge shift in how we see ourselves and our universe. The old materialist model of separate self-existent egos locked in isolated bodies struggling to survive in a hostile alien universe is literally killing us and our planet. The emerging worldview is that everything we can sense and name, including ourselves and our bodies, is an evolving ever-changing part of an ever-evolving process, the whole and essence of which is our true identity. This is Muir's "Earth-planet, Universe" ecological identity. This is also the mystical worldview heralded for millennia by innumerable sages, shamans, saints, yogis, and world teachers such as Christ and the Buddha. Now is the time for many more of us to internalize the essential and ecological message of the world's wisdom traditions: "we are all one in the spirit so let's love and take care of each other and all beings!"   

One can and we must learn to live this kind of practical mysticism--taking care of business while taking care of the planet. In the experience of unity the usual physical division of seer, seeing, and seen is superseded by a direct experience that there is one seamless reality behind this world of separate appearances. We don't usually experience this unity perspective because our word-thoughts break the seamless world-process into apparently separate thing-events so we can focus on life's most pressing challenges. But this useful narrowing of awareness also causes unnecessary suffering when we confuse this word-map of reality with the actual territory of reality. When we think we are just one small thing knocking about in a hostile universe of much larger and more powerful things we become frightened and defensive and love is lost. Remembering the One behind the many brings the lost and confused soul back to its true evolving course and goal. And, it is the only way we will create a peaceful, sane, and sustainable world.

As Plotinus said, "....this is the true end set before the soul, to take that light, to see the Supreme by the Supreme and not by any other light than that by which it sees."

Thou art That! May you walk in Beauty. Yours in Peace, Bob 

Note: Unless attributed to other sources all text, poems, photographs and artwork in this blog and other blogs entitled "Wilderness Adventures with Bob Hare" are copyrighted © 2012 by Bob Hare. The phrase "Wilderness Adventures with Bob Hare" is a trademark of Bob Hare.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Yosemite Falls: A Strange and Wonderful Peace

Red Firs at Base of Lower Yosemite Falls, Scratchboard © Bob Hare 2012

Journal Entry: June 16, 1975, Lower Yosemite Falls in Yosemite Valley, Elevation about 4,140' 

A beautiful experience! I walked after dusk from our black bear research camp to the base of the lower Yosemite Falls. The night was warm with a quarter moon trying to break through an overcast sky. As I neared the falls the sound of the crashing waters, the rapids and the beautiful silhouetted pine trees filled me with a wonderful awe. 

Upper Yosemite Falls, Scratchboard © Bob Hare 2012

I climbed among the river boulders and lay down upon a large flat rock, looking up at the cliffs towering above, the rugged trees and the powerful presence of the falls which bathed me in a fine mist with each cool canyon breeze. 

Lower Yosemite Falls, Scratchboard © Bob Hare 2012

The sounds of the cascading waters lulled me into a meditative state. I felt my fingers becoming a part of the rock they touched—the energy of the waters was passing through them. A strange and wonderful peace came upon me. 

Lower Yosemite Falls © Bob Hare 2012

I could not and did not want to move any part of my body. I could no longer feel my separateness from the earth. Only my slow breathing and the tingling sensation at the ends of my fingers reminded me of my identity. 

Mist at Lower Yosemite Falls © Bob Hare 2012

In the darkness of my closed eyes—I was the stream-boulder and for a moment I was the water, the sounds, and the breeze-borne mist. I wanted to stay, that I must remain—I wished only eyes that could hold this Beauty.

Mist in Trees at Lower Yosemite Falls © Bob Hare 2012

 May all Beings be well, happy, and free! May you walk in Beauty! Yours in Peace, Bob

May your River Run Free, Brush & Ink © Bob Hare 2012

Note: Unless attributed to other sources all text, poems, photographs and artwork in this blog and other blogs entitled "Wilderness Adventures with Bob Hare" are copyrighted © 2012 by Bob Hare. The phrase "Wilderness Adventures with Bob Hare" is a trademark of Bob Hare.