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

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Yosemite: The Sundogs of Shaman Ridge

Suncloud from Shaman Ridge © 2012 Bob Hare

Journal Entry: Budd Lake, Yosemite National Park, October 4, 1981 


After dropping my pack at the lake I set off at 3 p.m. with camera, food, warm clothes, and flashlight heading for the promontory that divides the Cathedral Cirque into two basins. I huffed my way up the rounded boulders and by a circuitous path found my way to the top where a most majestic panorama took my breath away (what wind I had left) and set me soon to snapping photos. From here I could see the lake, Mount Dana, part of Lembert Dome, and all the peaks of this cirque. High cirrus clouds were moving in from the west and the tops of Mt. Hoffmann and the peaks to the north were already covered with cumuli. Then I saw it! An intensely luminous multicolored sundog hovering between the westering sun and the south wall of Cathedral Peak. It reached an intensity of color and then faded to be followed by a magnificent coronal arc, a rainbow circling the zenith. This too was greatly irised like the sundog. Then a second irised sundog appeared to the south of the sun soon losing its color but sprouting a luminous jet pointing southward.


North Sundog shining brightly over Cathedral Peak © Bob Hare 2012


The creator of this celestial-alpine light show soon made itself known in the form of a sublime ice-crystal bearing feather cloud that suddenly crystallized out of the super-frigid air 10,000 feet above my 10,300 foot elevation. I was besides myself with rejoicing! The ever-changing sky show continued in this sequence: 1) north sundog, 2) circumzenithal arc, 3) south sundog and jet, 4) return of north sundog, 5) relighting of south sundog, 6) back to north sundog, and finally the last of these celestial lights, the south sundog. 


Immense Feather Cloud over Budd Lake © Bob Hare 2012

Each beacon politely yielded center stage by fading before the next one stole my eye. As far as I knew this celestial epiphany was for my eyes alone, given that such glories require an exact angular relationship between sun, ice crystal shape and orientation, and a human retina looking in the right direction at the right time. I am truly blessed to see this drama playing out over my beloved Cathedral Peak. 


But this was only the first act. To my amazement the dramatic clouds caught on fire with the setting sun with one glory yielding to ever more fiery glories. Quietly absorbed in this heavenly spectacle I hadn't noticed that the near half moon above east Echo Peak had become obscured by mottled clouds. My concerns switched immediately from grandeur to making it back to my camp safely in the waning twilight. 


Sunset from Shaman's Ridge © 2012 Bob Hare


I made good time descending by a different route heading north down a gorge to skirt a promontory that gave me some difficulty coming up. But after losing much elevation I came to an unclimbable wall and a steep ice field that blocked my way westward. So I stripped down for the laborious re-ascent and got out my flashlight, reassuring myself that I could bivouac up here (perhaps dancing a jig through the night to keep warm like John Muir) until sunrise. I conserved the flashlight until I really needed it and worked my way back up to near the summit--quite aware of my aloneness, weariness, and the potential for tripping and serious injury. I soon located a slot canyon that was oriented toward to the lake and committed myself to it not knowing whether it was passable. I squeezed my way down the narrowing chute and after some sliding and boulder-hopping I suddenly and happily emerged into open space near the lake shore. The stars had came out and I plopped down with relief next to my tent. 


The Fissures at Budd Lake © Bob Hare 2012


I found my incense and sacrament pouches and went out to the meadow just south of the lake outlet where I had found some obsidian flakes-- perhaps an old camp of Awahneechees or Monos hunting bighorn in this cirque long ago. I prayed to the four directions offering up much feeling and thanks for this life. 


This body is my prayer  © Bob Hare 2012

This body is my prayer
This body that courses with your energy
and is infused with your light
I am my wordless prayer to You

The lights You showed me in darkness
now appear in the daylight world
Your inner and outer worlds
are now joined in me

I hear your cranes bugling inside me
and leap from my bed
to see them flying over my housetop
and I rejoice!

Moon over Cathedral Cirque © Bob Hare 2012

May Peace be with you. May all Beings be well, happy, and free!

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.