I was staring at my tiny phone screen too long and too often. It was time to drive East four hours from the San Francisco Bay and look at something completely spectacular.
Around Manteca the geological and arboreal strata began to shift. Nut trees and vineyards were gradually replaced by rolling, golden hills, which turned into to steeper, black oak-covered hills with ancient outcroppings of basalt boulders, lava remains.
The dirt turned red approaching Copperopolis. A climb of the Old Priest’s trail put us in the land of sugar pines, sinuous manzanita, and tall incense cedar. We kept climbing.
No matter how many times I’ve made this trip, nothing all the way past Groveland prepares me for the shocking beauty of the descent into Yosemite Valley.
Mark, and I spent a long time staring at El Capitan last weekend. We stood on the valley floor and gazed up 3,000 feet to the top, maybe from the same spot where Chiura Obata painted in the early 1930s! The deep blue November sky made the whites almost painfully bright. Formed from a single chunk of granite, El Capitan is considered the largest granite monolith in the world.
Millions of years ago, these mountains lay buried beneath five miles of solid rock. After meandering rivers and streams slowly wore away the rock to reveal the granites, more rapid rivers carved steep slopes and canyons. Then a glacier took eons of slow weight and power to sculpt and polish the face of El Capitan.
It’s easy to get impatient when a video doesn’t load immediately, or when an e-mail goes unanswered for a few days. Look to something massive. Think about something slow. It’s good for my fevered brain.