The Wayward Wind

Peaks above Mineral King on the Great Western Divide, Sequoia National Park, seen from my home (telephoto)

And the wayward wind is a restless wind, A restless wind that yearns to wander. And he was born the next of kin: the next of kin to the wayward wind. — song by Stanley Lebowski and Herb Newman


In some way or another the spirit that dwells within us and around us will stir us and guide us if we’re open to its call. It’s different for different people. Here is how it called to me when I was young.

Beginning when I was a small child, my family often drove and car-camped in Sequoia National Park from our home in Visalia. I loved these trips, the forest, and the long views from the road. When I joined the Boy Scouts we went camping in the lower mountains and forests.

We lived in the eastern edge of the San Joaquin Valley, scarcely two miles from the nearest foothills. In the Southern Sierra a high divide separates the Kern Basin from the steeply descending Kaweah River drainage, much closer to the Valley than the main crest to the east. On clear days I would study those 12- and 13-thousand foot ridges and peaks.

During junior high I spent two sessions at Scout camp. Then, the summer before I started high school I joined the staff for most of the season. Camp Mirimichi was on Huntington Lake, at 7,000 feet elevation northeast of Fresno. North, across the wide lake, a long ridge rose 3,000 feet. Near the top, the forest ended and we could see the rocky summit against the sky. To the east, a canyon ascended toward a divide which hid the high peaks beyond. I could sense them, though; and when thunder started echoing faintly in that direction, it was a call: “here I am; I’m waiting for you.”

That year I joined an Explorer post for older scouts and we planned a camping trip to Hamilton Lake, deep in Sequoia’s back country. Finally I was about to experience the high country myself. As the weeks before our trip passed, I anticipated it.

Some staff members had portable radios which they would tune to music stations. One day a song caught my attention. Choral voices soared and dipped like the wind; The clear tone of a french horn sounded. Gogi Grant sang: “And the wayward wind is a restless wind, A restless wind that yearns to wander.” I could see clearly in my mind that free wind soaring among the peaks I had studied from afar. I imagined it sweeping around their summits.

“And he was born the next of kin: the next of kin to the wayward wind.” Oh, what a connection! Could she be singing about me in some way? I yearned for it to be true. I yearned to be among those high peaks with the wind and to experience them personally.


 On that trip I gazed at rugged  granite peaks a mile above a deep canyon. We camped beside a lake below soaring rock walls. I climbed on them, felt their texture and participated in their reality. I had intense experiences among them. Afterward I knew for sure that I was made for the mountains. The spirit of the wind among the peaks will be with me forever.


What song has been especially meaningful to you?


About David McCoard

After earning my MS in geology I've done various things including managing the ski touring program at a small lodge in the Sierra. In 2010 I retired from Contra Costa College in California. I've always been fascinated by the mountains and nature and have spent countless days hiking, backpacking, climbing and skiing in the Sierra. The spiritual insights I've learned there have set the course for my life. Now I have time to share them and strike up a conversation.
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One Response to The Wayward Wind

  1. DSD says:

    As a young person I too heard this song being sung at many points of my life. The words do very much echo and your musings here David do as well.
    Isn’t it an amazing thing that we each eventually hear our own echoes out there if we listen closely enough…

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