Clouds Rest and Tenaya Canyon from Olmsted Point. Half Dome is at right.

Clouds Rest and Tenaya Canyon from near Olmsted Point. Half Dome is at right.

The Tioga Road winds eastward toward Tuolumne Meadows, northeast of Yosemite Valley. Suddenly, rounding a turn the view opens up to the broad face of Clouds Rest and the improbable upthrust of Half Dome. At 8,400 feet above sea level, Olmsted Point features parking and interpretive displays. A short walk from the road brings me onto broad slabs of granite where I gaze even deeper into the canyon of Tenaya Creek.

In the foreground and middleground broad expanses of granite spread outward, smoothed and rounded by glacial action. Scattered trees grow where they have managed to find a foothold. Beyond, the deep canyon of Tenaya Creek is hidden from view below Clouds Rest’s mile-high sweep of bare granite.

From its summit at nearly 10,000 feet elevation, this granite face sweeps downward uninterrupted for a vertical mile. Its graceful lines seem to flow like water. Only the forest on the crest of the ridge to the left of the summit hints at the immense scale of the scene. It’s impossible to imagine and appreciate the true scale of what I see. I stand in the midst of this, one person blessed to have been made part of such an awesome world.

And get this: I’m not alone. Each one of us has been made an integral part of the awesome world and universe of which this scene is part. It’s something to consider and be thankful for. It’s empowering–you’re part of a universe filled with power. You have power to make a positive difference in your society and environment.


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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