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.