Thousand Island Lake: Ansel Adams Wilderness
In a field, golden with Indian Summer, we have made camp on the shores of Thousand Island Lake. We are completely surrounded by sheer walls of granite the color of polished nickel. Not since we left Colorado have I seen such a grand display of undeniable beauty. Even more beautiful it seems than Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood, or the colorful Three Sisters. Even more beautiful than the pristine beaches or the misty rainforests of Oregon. But lately, everyplace we go is even more beautiful than the last. Perhaps we have fallen into the simple beauty of the Now. But here the landscape is wide open. Deserts meet mountains. Rock and sky. Water and trees. But the trees here are spaced apart with room to breathe. One can wander at will in any direction with nothing so much as pine needles or the occasional mountain range blocking your way. In most directions you will find smoothly polished rock to tread upon, paving your way to the heavens. Views extend for miles in every direction. Miles upon miles of a rolling sea of solid granite. And the sky, so blue it appears dark in the middle of the day against the stark silver peaks. A wild country to be sure. Black bear, deer, muskrat, and big horn sheep wander freely. How joyful they must be in this Garden Of Eden. Gone are the deep heady forests. Here we have stumbled upon the grand finale of planet Earth!
The Sierra Nevadas. The crown jewel of America. Unspoiled. And free to all who wander into her sun drenched valleys. My heart goes out to Ansel Adams. John Muir. Theodore Roosevelt. And the many others who helped preserve this earthy paradise. Thousand Island Lake sits like a well manicured park, yet miles from the nearest road. The golden grass that surrounds the lake is soft enough to walk barefoot upon. On the shore of the lake are numerous small beaches of fine white sand, enticing you to wade out into her cool blue waters. Upon exiting the water, the dry air dries the skin almost instantly, eliminating the need for a towel, like the deserts of Utah, the swimming pools of Arizona.
The night sky here is larger than our peripheral vision, creating the most difficult task of having to choose which part of the sky to focus on. For any moment of inattention causes one to miss shooting stars and flashes of light we cannot begin to explain. Are they distant planets? UFOs? Or just God winking at us from the heavens. We cannot be sure. Better not to know and live in the mystery. What do we really know anyway? We give things names as if a name were a means to an end. But can we really know a star? Does the word star describe a star any more than the word water describes our lakes, streams, and oceans? Once we lose the word, the mystery returns. Science, although a useful tool, describes nature no better and no worse than a child describing a bird. In all of our scientific discoveries, we still cannot manufacture a grain of wheat or the wing of a fly. Life defies all words and any possible thought. Thought stops life. We find ourselves the most alive only when the thoughts subside. That is where our lives unfold. We find the only way to truly understand this wilderness is to lay our thinking minds to rest and simply breathe it all in. Feel its magic. And surrender to the mystery.
How lucky we are to be here, of all the places in the universe, on this little planet we call Earth.