The Force of Life

In my mountain travels I’ve always been impressed by the abundant force of life springing up in the most inhospitable places. The upper reaches of the Sierra have been heavily glaciated. Soil and loose rocks have been carried away. Bedrock has been carved away and worn smooth so that as the glaciers melted back, in many places only massive rock was left.

During the millenia since the last major advance and retreat, soil has been slowly deposited in low places by running water. Where the rock was able to be weathered and broken apart, thin sandy soil supports forest. However, in many wide areas the glaciated bedrock remains smooth and massive, with only scattered joints to collect a bit of dust and sand.

Here and there, a pine seed has been blown into one of these cracks. Nourished by rainwater or melting snow and what meager nourishment is in this sand, it has germinated. Roots have grown along the length of the joint, sucking up more nourishment. Braving snow, wind and baking sun, the tree has slowly, slowly grown taller and stronger. Today, such isolated trees stand straight and proud, bursting forth from a pavement of solid granite.

The force of life triumphs–a note of encouragement for each of us.


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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