In the mountains as in life, I’ve found to be open to unexpected things enriches my experience .
As you drive eastbound over Tioga Pass on Yosemite’s Tioga Road, the bulk of 13,000 foot Mt. Dana rises to the east. North of the pass, looking across Tioga Lake you see dense forest rising into a gap between the cliffs of Mt. Dana on the south and Dana Plateau on the north. There is nothing in this view of forest to suggest anything but more forest.
This July my buddy and I decided to explore this gap, Glacier Valley. It’s so named for the small glacier at its head in the shade of Mt. Dana.
As we followed the trail into the woods, it gradually steepened–at first steep but smooth, then steep and rocky. We found ourselves climbing beside a rushing, cascading stream. Finally, 800 feet above the lake, the grade ceased and we walked into a large green meadow.
Here we set up a rendevous, and my more energetic buddy headed on up the valley.
I crossed the gently flowing stream and found a viewpoint where I studied the complex terrain to the north which we had been exploring for the past few days. Then I returned to our rendevous point.
A steep moraine slope bordered the meadow on the north. To get a higher view, and with time on my hands, I clambered up the steep slope. Above, on a gentle slope I discovered a moist garden of deep green wild onions, with flowering heads reaching four feet above the ground. A tiny stream coursed through it from above.
Following the stream, to my surprise, as I topped a rise I discovered myself at the edge of a wide bench covered by a lush meadow. Seeps at the east end fed a small, still lakelet in the middle.
Standing by the trail below, I had seen no suggestion of the scene before me–but here it was!
I spent over an hour taking pictures and napping in the shade of a tree below the meadow with a wide view of the country beyond.
The mountains, nature and life contain unexpected surprises. It enriches life to be open to the possibility of surprises, new knowledge and new possibilities, and to appreciate and make use of them.