Summer in the Sierra Mountains

With effort, I slip through the early morning fog, my mind elsewhere. One step, then another, my thoughts floating back to the Sierra Mountains ~ a youthful spirit riding and climbing versus this old soul shuffling out the door. A few hours later, I fold into a seat on a flight back to Czechia, the morning haze beginning to lift.  

It feels more difficult to leave the States than in the past, but there is also a twinge of excitement. What awaits me on my return to Kamýk nad Vltavou?  

The Czech writer, Franz Kafka, summarizes my mood: “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty will never grow old.”  This quote relaxes me, for I know whatever lies ahead, I’ll find beauty… and with it, a rekindled, youthful spirit.

I’ve realized when things are a bit off, life a bit monotonous, I need to jump off my path and stretch my body and soul into something unknown. This summer, the jump ended up on the back of a beautiful paint horse, Hero, and I made my way through the John Muir Wilderness.

Thinking of those days in the saddle, I still feel the shock to the system, but the aches feel good… and sadly, being on horseback is far removed from my current reality of a cramped airplane.   

While part of me appreciates the repetitiveness of life, for stability should never be underestimated or undervalued, such moments serve more as a time to recharge for the next moments of chaos: fuel for the fire of life.  

Energized and exhausted defines not just my physical and mental state right now; it signifies the beauty of contradictions found throughout life ~ memories of each bittersweet moment, from the familiar to the foreign.   

The minute I begin to feel the world closing in on me, I feel most alive… my heart begins to beat a bit faster in anticipation of the inevitable quark to catch my eye. A new opportunity. A moment to create a new reality. A chance at freedom. A chance to stretch the soul. 

A misunderstood gift in life is when the comfortable path vanishes, and an untamed wilderness lies ahead ~ there is no choice but to struggle, push forward, and create.  This discomfort is the brilliance of life. Reveling in the challenge to succeed and, in doing so, defining a new reality. 

It is how I found myself in the Sierra Mountains, sauntering through the John Muir Wilderness, living out the stories dreamt of in my youth.   

There was a bit of déjà vu riding through Mono Pass at 12,000 feet. Decades ago, this place was the playground of my Dad.  The above brochure was from the Mineral King Pack Station in 1959, and the kid holding a golden trout caught in one of its majestic streams is my Dad. 

An adventure he re-lived many times with stories when I was young, his excitement today as pure as it was sixty years ago. He also took pack mules in, hiked the same wilderness, and sought adventures long before I existed.  

Peering back in time, perhaps not to the extent of the awe-inspiring photos of the James Webb Space Telescope and the universe billions of years ago, but rather a more humble review of the old & new photos of the Muir Wilderness; its essence is still unchanged. The same wilderness, scenes, and descriptions my Dad had experienced a half-century earlier.

Sharing our stories, we were both kids again for a brief moment. Time: past, present, future – irrelevant. Our two realities intersected and conveyed the enchantment of the Sierra Mountains.   

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ~ John Muir

In a small opening of the forest with the universe overhead, awed by the immense beauty spread out in the tapestry above, I took in the significance of my insignificance.

It reminded me of a two-thousand-year-old quote by the Stoic Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius: “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars and see yourself running with them.”

If I can do this, I’ll forever be young, making my way through this universe.

Pulling lessons from poets and philosophers of the past?

Re-living adventures dreamt as a child?

For me, a perfect recipe for reflection. A chance to run with the stars, chase ghosts through the Sierra Wilderness, and find truth in the summer of ’22. Distractions of a modern world severed and instead the silence of the wild…

Move at the pace of the Sierra is a piece of advice I took from Muir’s writings. Move at the pace of the streams, the breeze, the trees. Feel the freedom of silence. Freedom from society. Freedom from work and freedom from the avalanche of social media ~ links tying us to the modern world.

It is impossible not to get sucked into the inane reality of modern life. The rush of society can be as addictive as the quiet of nature. Where technology wraps its coils around the mind, chains bound to false realities – nature’s silent flow allows thoughts to percolate.

The Sierra Mountains are a perfect respite. 

John Muir wrote of the Sierra Wilderness: “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.  Wash your spirit clean.”

Shifting in my seat, there is solace in reading these words. My thoughts are more precise and balanced. I’ll delve back into this modern, technological world with this added confidence. 

“The mountains are fountains of men… The great poets, philosophers, prophets, able men whose thoughts and deeds have moved the world, have come down from the mountains… ” – John Muir

The week in the Sierra Mountains reverted my soul to its youthful ideals.  There is so much good in the world, allowing for a constant evolution of a mind, life, and reality to be proud of.

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” – Marcus Aurelius

This is one of my favorite Stoic quotes, for Marcus Aurelius transformed his character, behavior, and entire way of life with this simple idea. He understood that the present moment is all we ever have, and it’s within ourselves to create our happiness.

Sometimes I sit both amazed and confused about how words written millenniums ago can hold such an objective and straightforward truth… a simple meaning, yet challenging to put into practice.

If we can see beauty, as Kafka said at the beginning of this post, we’ll never lose our youthful optimism.  Our thoughts create a reality where we can touch our dreams.  

I kick back and reflect on the beauty in my life.  The reality I’ve created will no doubt evolve into something different tomorrow, but at least for today, I am happy. My past, present, and future are harmoniously aligned, with a youthful spirit set to search for beauty no matter what lies ahead. 

With the images of the Sierra Mountains etched deeply in my mind, I close my eyes, sensing a new path and reality will soon come into focus.

* Side Note: A thank you to Peruvian philosopher Pamela Estevez for alerting me to this great opportunity!

106 Comments on “Summer in the Sierra Mountains

  1. Beautiful words oh so true…. The images that have the experience to guide its really getting in the way of a dream. Thank you for sharing.

  2. This sheer beauty is overwhelming! I hold my breath as I scroll, read and watch the landscapes pass by as I touch faces, dip my toes in the streams, get off from the horseback and embrace Nature and hope this will go on and on. Thank you for this blissful start to my Sunday, Randall. There is solace in reading you.

    • Your words mirror my thoughts as I think back to the Sierra Mountains – nature has a way of showing beauty in ways I never thought possible. Thank you very much for your nice words, Dina. I think you all experience the same feelings when out in nature in your part of the world. Wishing you a wonderful Sunday and the final few days of summer. Take care ~

      • ~ and you. Autumn is a lovely time of the year too. We’re deep into it.

    • Thank you, Kamila. In this situation, with such surroundings and history, the story was able to write itself 🙂 Wishing you a great day too!

  3. Such a fabulous post after so many months. Your photography and words are as marvelous as always, and I love that quote from Marcus Aurelius!

    • This summer had a few unplanned adventures ~ and it was bliss being able to get away into the mountains as well as vacation with my family… and it feels good to be able to come back and put together the photographs and write. Thank you very much for the nice comment, Hien, and I agree with you on the quote. Such wisdom is to be found in those few words.

    • Thank you very much; the scenery truly exceeded expectations! Wishing you well on these final few days of summer.

  4. Stunning photographs of the beauty of the Sienna Mountains and your words are equally beautiful and evocative. Life is indeed what we make it, our thoughts a mirror and pathway to our reality. Thank you for sharing your history, story and sentiments. Truly loved your post.

    • Life, indeed, is what we make of it ~ and even when it becomes difficult, there is always something valuable for us to find. Thank you very much for your nice comment, Miriam. From your adventures, I think you can relate to the magic camping can do for the soul. 🙂

  5. Well Randall, this one was a bit different from you – as, I suspect was your adventure. The landscapes are breathtaking and the wilderness, so endangered, lifts the spirit with its richness. It looks like you were blessed with perfect weather which would make all the difference. Hard not to think back to a time when such experience were more the norm. I especially loved seeing the old pamphlet featuring your dad (what fun!) and your Milky Way with the amazing clarity of the wide open unpolluted sky. No, we are not willing to give up our modern conveniences but to live that way for a short time must have been magical and of course energizing. To do it with your family would only have made it that much more special. Wishing you well as always; thank you for the amazing start to my day.

    • It is always wonderful to read your thoughtful comments, Tina; thank you so much. The High Sierra Mountains did not disappoint; it was one of those occasions where expectations were exceeded. The weather did cooperate, although on the final night we had light rain, which wasn’t bad except that in my ‘wisdom’ I pitched my tent down the slope so I could be nearer to the creek and hear it babble… and feared if heavy rains came at some point in the night, I’d have a cascade of water flow through 🙂 Fortunately, the heavy rain didn’t come until we rode into the pack station! It was exciting to see the land my Dad grew up in – and as you say, it was an experience to dive into nature and revel in the simplicity but knowing in a week, a hot bath and warm bed would be waiting :-). Wishing you and your family a great finish to the few days of summer remaining ~ take care.

    • I also need to add that, yes, the old pamphlet with my Dad was a perfect way to reflect on the adventure ~ it is an area he grew up in, so it added a special feeling to this adventure. The night sky was one of the highlights I was anxious to see in the Sierra Mountains, even though in the Olympic Mountains, we have the same opportunity… the Sierra offered richer darkness. Capturing a photo of the Milky Way was on my mind prior, and I ended up buying a new lens (12-24mm) specifically for this trip and shot so very happy you mentioned it 😂

  6. Amazing serendipity that I read this post today, for I am flying to Truckee tonight to visit my son for a week. Thanks for the beautiful photos and thoughts to light my path, Randall. 🌲

    • Wishing you a great trip to Truckee ~ this part of California/Nevada is fascinating. Look forward to hear about your week!

  7. Beautiful photos of your mountain adventures. Did you have thoughts of Ansel Adams packing his 8X10 view camera around the Sierras 80 some years ago?

    • Thank you, Timothy. There were many moments where I thought about Ansel Adams and how lucky we are to have mirrorless cameras these days 🙂

  8. Dear Randall
    what a mind blowing posts. Excellent text and pictures. Especially your pictures look three dimensional, ‘like one could walk into them’, as Dina expressed it.
    Thank you very much for sharing
    Klausbernd 🙂
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Sometimes when stepping in nature, you find a place where everything is just as you imagined ~ the Sierra Mountains were such an area for me. It would be great to have you four come over and see/compare your beautiful piece of the world with the Sierra – the world is a pretty magnificent place 🙂

      • Thanks, dear Randall,
        on the one hand, we would love to but on the other hand, we gave up travelling to different continents.
        Wishing you a great day
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Thank you very much, Georgia ~ wish you a smooth transition from summer into autumn. Take care.

  9. Randall, wonderful thoughts, quotes and photos. I related to your story of adventure and reflection. As a child in growing up in Maine, I had the wilderness to explore with my German Shepherd by my side. Not much reflection, but awestruck by just being there surrounded by trees, brooks and wild flowers. “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty will never grow old.” Love this quote. At my age (83), I still can see the beauty and never feel old. I love the idea of running with the stars in the Milky Way. An awesome photo. Can I save it in my photo gallery? You’re going back to your country where you’ll have new thoughts & more adventures. Stay connected, please, and post again soon. 📚🎶 Christine

    • There is something about being out in the wilderness, no matter how grand or small – as you say, it is just being surrounded by trees, wildflowers, and, if lucky, a stream or brook. Your time in Maine is similar to mine in the Pacific Northwest; there was always somewhere interesting to enjoy. As for the Milky Way photo, it is yours 🙂 Do with it what you wish! It is nice to be back in Czechia, although autumn cold and rain have wiped out any thought of an extended summer away. Take care, Christine, and thank you very much for such a nice comment.

      • Randall, your comment warms my heart. I did have a small running brook in my early childhood. I’d go there with my German Shepherd and lay on the mossy bank gazing at the Lillies if the Valley. Thank you for allowing me to keep the treasured MilkyWay photo. The lighted tent is a perfect addition. Hopefully, we will hear more about your life in Czechia. It’s surrounded by interesting countries with, I can imagine, influence on Czechia’s culture. 📚🎶 Christine

      • Czechia is so perfect for me… the people are down-to-earth, focused on life and the beauty of nature, and remind me so much of my hometown. And the incredible beer here is an added benefit 🙂 🍺

      • Tuning into nature, and turning to beer for a good life is the way to go. Surrounded by good people. Happy to know you are in your perfect place, so much like your hometown. 📚🎶Christine

  10. Thank you for such beautiful photos and the beautiful words. I absolutely love astrophotography but haven’t ventured there yet because the past 5 years have been all-consuming with an intense spiritual awakening. The quotes you shared speak to me, and especially, “Our life is what our thoughts make it.” – Marcus Aurelius. As a healer, this is truer than most people know. Excited for your next adventure!

    • Thank you very much, and I agree – astrophotography can be mesmerizing. I do not have much experience with it, but on this trip, it was one of my goals to shoot the Milky Way. Very fortunate, the weather cooperated, and the shot worked out the way I hoped it would. As for the quote by Marcus Aurelius, those words inspire ~ I wish you wonderful autumn ahead. Take care.

  11. Oh Dalo, your photos and text make me so grateful for the world I’ve experienced. I was weaned on the Sierras, the dry pine forests, the rushing streams of the high country, and the gentleness of its wildlife. Thank you for taking me back to where my soul was nurtured. 😎

    • Wow, to have grown up with the Sierra Mountains ~ you say it perfectly, “where my soul was nurtured.” I’ve learned a few things after writing this, such as one of my best friend’s Mom, who also grew up in the Sierras, and I had no idea – so when I return to Pendleton, I get to sit down and hear those stories. It is a magical place, and you have much to be grateful for as Hood River is also one of those oases in life as well… Thank you, John, and take care.

  12. It appears you had an epic adventure to share with your friends and family. The photos are gorgeous and the words remind me that my life has gotten stale. I’m way overdue for some adventure, travel, and deep wilderness. My soul is parched. I’m glad you could revisit this storied wilderness, home to fond family memories and the birth of John Muir’s love for nature. Kudos Randall.

    • There is something special about just getting out into the land, be it in the field behind the house, local mountains, or a destination such as the Sierra Wilderness… it gets the mind moving, wondering what could be next, and then the energy to pursue 🙂 Muir’s writings are also pretty inspirational to read… it reminds me that even though I think the world has changed so much, in many ways, it hasn’t. Wishing you a great start to the autumn season, Brad, and thank you for the thoughts!

      • Yes getting out and moving always help. I’ve actually never read his writing other than lots of quotes. Sounds like a fun task!

  13. I greatly enjoyed your photo essay. In addition to the stunning photography, it was thought-provoking and prompted some reflection on my part about how I’m dealing with the pressures of this current moment in time.

    • Thank you very much, Liz. Putting this photo essay together gave me the time to reflect on the beauty of the Sierra Mountains and priorities in life (the quotes of Marcus Aurelius ringing true), and it cleared my mind. Funny how taking time off can be so energizing and efficient regarding our work. I wish you great autumn ahead!

  14. When kid one of the things whose advertisement I always loved was Marlboro cigarettes. I’d wish to have a book with all of them. I don’t smoke, not for any reason in special, I only know that there was something admirable in those cowboys being so free in those landscapes with those horses, and something quite American. I see your photographs and I feel an American man traveling from 150 years in the past would still feel like home. Thank you, Randall. A young spirit without doubt has to be linked to how open we are to be happy.

    • Thank you for this, Francis! I, too, remember those ads and felt the same – along with the Louis L’Amour books I read (cowboy novels), I could hardly wait to grow up and drink coffee and smoke around the fire 🙂 It was the American Dream for many of my friends and me – exploring and living in the wild. Pleasant dreams to have, and it is also quite interesting that many national forests and wildernesses in the USA remain unchanged from centuries ago. Treasures for us all. Let me know if you want to come up and visit; I’ll take you 🙂 And then I’ll return to Peru again, and we can also find an adventure there!

  15. Such a great post and a reminder to challenge ourselves to leave the old ways of the familiar and to step onto the pathways of the unknown and the infinite. These words and your beautiful captures Randall, sum it up perfectly.

    ‘It signifies the beauty of contradictions found throughout life ~ memories of each bittersweet moment, from the familiar to the foreign.’

    • Thank you, Karen. You say it succinctly “a reminder to challenge ourselves to leave the old ways of the familiar and to step onto the pathways of the unknown and the infinite.” I did not think of this directly, but yes, this is the theme of this post… It is how we get those bittersweet moments and extreme contradictions and still move forward – I wish you special autumn ahead.

  16. A beautiful sojourn, and a reminder to be still, even if I’m not in the mountains, tho your gorgeous photos help me imagine it well.

    • Thank you very much, Alison. Sometimes I find, when I’m back in city life, how photos and writings of mountains (or oceans) can take me away as if I am there… it is a gift to have such an imagination 🙂 Wishing you further adventures this fall.

  17. “A misunderstood gift in life is when the comfortable path vanishes, and an untamed wilderness lies ahead.” I loved that line, Randall. It’s the beginning of so many adventures. I haven’t explored the Sierras, though I have a special affection for mountains and forests and those beautiful mirror lakes. It seems to be a place I should visit, suddenly aware of the “untamed wilderness” calling. You chose beautiful and timeless quotes to reflect your thoughts, and gorgeous photos to entice your readers. Another wonderful post – always followed by a deep sigh of peace.

    • Isn’t it true? Almost all adventures start with a bit of trepidation. So many unknowns ahead, but not knowing what is next makes it all the more exciting. The Sierras were so beautiful and not knowing what was around the corner made appreciating the beauty and the time up in the mountains much more rewarding. It seems nature is always able to provide these critical elements of an adventure 🙂 Thanks very much, Diana, for the nice words of adventure and peace!

      • I agree Randall. There’s a lot of wonder and excitement in new adventures. And for me, that’s mostly in the natural world. ❤ ❤

  18. Though a constant lover of the ocean, your wondrous photos in this post have made me yearn to follow mountain paths. I love the ways in which you were able to experience time outside of our limited linearity in your summer adventure. May the new season ahead be as revealing as the past ones were to you.

    • Like you, I am one to prefer water and oceans, but as you say now and then, escaping up into the wild of the mountains can bring a very different view of the world. One nice thing about the West Coast of the USA is there generally are places where you can experience both within close distance. Thank you for the nice comment. I also wish you wonderful autumn wherever your next adventure takes you. Happy trails 🙂

  19. After reading your thoughts, and seeing the beautiful pictures of the Sierra, I wonder why I haven’t been to the Sierra for a few years?
    When driving from where I live, can be there in a couple of hours?🤔
    I will talk to a couple of friends and do the trip.

    • This is great, and I wish you a great trip up to this magnificent mountain range. It must feel good to have such a destination so close, but I also understand how having something so close sometimes leads to not taking advantage of visiting 🙂 We have the Olympic National Forest outside of Seattle and in Oregon, the great Wallowa Mountains, and the East Eagle Cap wilderness, which I haven’t seen in a long time. Enjoy, and thank you for the words! Take care ~

  20. Thank you Dalo for a wonderful post. Yes, the quest for Beauty is the highest. I realised that a few years ago, looking at the waters of the Seine in Paris. That I’d been looking for Beauty to the end of the world, whilst I had it there, in Paris, right under my feet.
    I envy your ride up in the Sierra. Horses were a big part of my teens. Haven’t ridden in a while. Except once, many many years in the mountains of Colombia, with little Anglo-Arab horses no never canter nor gallop, only trot. Amble. (Not sure what the word in English is. Not “crossing” their legs, but moving the left foreleg first then the left hindleg, then switching to the right. Makes for a very brisk, smooth ride.
    And as for Beauty, we may have mentioned it before, the ancient Greeks valued three things above anything else: Beauty, Truth and Good. None complete without the other two…
    Thanks for the ride my friend. And stay safe in Czech…
    Free 🇺🇦 !

    • Great to hear from you, Brian, and I thought my paint, Hero, would interest you. The Greeks defined life exceptionally well: beauty, truth, and goodness. Almost every central tenet of philosophy and religion holds these as universal, and I like what you say you cannot have one without the other. Very accurate – and this triumvirate is what makes getting out into nature the perfect remedy to life 🙂 The horse gait you are referring to is a pace; I’ve never ridden a pacer before, but I just looked it up, and it is supposed to be a very comfortable ride. I hope all is going well, and thank you for the riding lesson today! And yes, 🇺🇦, be free!

      • A “paint” is a “pinto”? Same stuff?
        Hero is a nice name both for a horse and for these troubled days…
        I recently brushed up on Western philosophy. Read Russells’ History of Western philosophy. Took me a while but it’s always useful. And Russell writes very well.
        So yes, I think your going out into nature checks on all three.
        “Riding lesson”? LOL. Not sure I can ride much anymore, bad back and all, but yes, that pace was veeery comfortable… Like riding in a soft leather armchair in a library…
        Free 🇺🇦

      • Yes, a “paint” is the same as “pinto” – although I just read technically, paint is a breed. And Hero was very much a free spirit ~ almost got thrown a couple of times; he did make me a better rider by the end of the week 🙂

        I want to read Russell’s History of Western philosophy, and not sure why I haven’t done so yet 🤔. It is impressive how many philosophers/thinkers like Russell, Nietzsche, and Muir used hiking/sauntering and getting away into nature as part of their work and creative process. Another good reason for us to get out into nature. Take care, Brian, and thank you ~ Free 🇺🇦!

      • Well spirited horses do test their riders… LOL. I knew a mare like that.
        I didn’t know about those guys’ hiking. (But then I feel so far away from Nature in Mexico city…)
        Do give a shot at Russell. Very good. Very clear. And relatively easy to read, as the book is structured in small sections within chapters. Took me 5 years, as I was reading other stuff too, but it was fine.
        Thank YOU.
        Have a nice week-end.
        Free 🇺🇦

  21. Stunning images and beautiful words. Perfect reflections in the lakes remind me of how little I see them here (in Melbourne, Australia). Here, it seems as though the wind constantly creates ripples across the water’s surface.

    Riding horseback through the mountains and across the wilderness seems the perfect way to connect with nature without the hard slog of carrying heavy backpacks and camp gear.

    • Thank you, Vicki. You are correct; riding on horseback and having the gear loaded on pack mules is such a perfect way to get into the wilderness ~ we covered a lot of ground without all the work 🙂 The weather during the week I was up in the mountains was close to perfect, and even though there was usually a breeze ~ it seemed at sunset it would die down, and those incredible reflections were something to sit and admire… before realizing I better get my camera before the wind started up again 🙂

  22. Sometimes in our modern age, with all the overpopulation, resource exhaustion, and bad actors acting up, it’s hard to remember that there are still places such as these. Beauty, open space, quiet, time to reflect and to “relax”, even if you finish the day exhausted. Thanks for sharing the experience.

    • Thank you, Dave. I think you summarise my feelings perfectly with this ~ it surprised me, too, understanding how perfect getting into the wilderness for a period of time brought me back to the relaxation of my younger days and made it easier to reflect on life. I look forward to the next session 🙂

    • Thank you very much, Becky, for your lovely comment. The history of my Dad and the Sierra Mountains was an exciting underlying current to this adventure, and he was as excited as I was to get this chance to ‘feel this wilderness’ for a week.

  23. Your article made me remember one story about Buddha I once heard. When people asked Buddha what life is. He replied that you are hanging off the ledge, holding on to a bush. You know it will soon fail, and you will quickly plunge to your death. At that moment, the sun hits the bright berry on the gorge wall, painting it ruby. You forget that you are about to fall and marvel at how beautiful the world is.
    All the best to you, and thank you for this fantastic article 🐱 🐱 🐱

    • This is a beautiful Buddhist story. I’ve never heard it before, but seldom have I read a sentence where the beauty of life and the world itself can be described. The image of a sunlight berry on the face of a gorge wall, I hope, stays in my mind forever, a reminder of a beautiful life lived with gratitude. I thank you very much for this insight ~ take care, YR, and may autumn treat you well.

  24. Randall, many of us have had surprising journeys in life of late that have thrown us off course in order to gain a new perspective and to see what is truly important in life. Sounds to me that you’ve made quite an in-depth journey, and as your mind and soul immerse into sheer bliss in the natural world, you found yourself again. Your photography and words brought great peace to my soul and I thank you. Absolutely gorgeous post!

    • Thank you very much, Amy, for your nice words. There is something special about returning to the once-known life we had when young, embracing the natural world. In many ways, these moments are what created who we are today ~ the lessons of nature we carry with us forever. From your work, I can see you feel and experience the same.

      • Yes I do, Randall. Mother is my Connection to HOME. I was shown that years ago and I will not let that go. Stay connected to what you know is True. That is the only way we will traverse through the mayhem in today’s world. xo

    • Thank you, Ana. This is something I often feel when I travel ~ gratitude for being able to be where I am.

  25. Always dear Randall, your posts are rich in words and beauty. To revisit parts of this trip with memories of past travels your Dad did in this part of the world, nostalgic and wonderful to read..
    To traverse such terrain on horseback to take in the beauty of such scenes, to breathe in the clear mountain air, must have been awesome..

    What I wouldn’t give to see those Starry skies and sleep beneath their twinkling brilliance as you shared that beautiful image of the Milky Way…

    Indeed Randall….. We should treasure the MOMENT for that is the only moment we live… and I am grateful that you shared your journey as you show us parts of the world I would never ever see…..
    My own love of horses only added more joy to my visit here today..

    Many thanks dear Randall for sharing your Summer in the Sierra Mountains with us all..
    Enjoy ALL your Autumn Moments too 🙂

    • Thank you, Sue; the trip was filled with memories ~ even though it was my first time in the Sierra Mountains. The memories from past stories from my Dad and the area’s history meshed with the memories I had from the Eagle Cap Wilderness and the Olympic Mountains adventures. The ability of nature to clear the mind and body will always keep me coming back to nature; even here in Czech, I have such places. Your beautiful words highlight this Sunday, Sue, so again, thank you very much, and in my best Roy Rogers voice ~ 🏇 happy trails to you 🎶

      • Nature has her own inner and out healing abilities which of itself can create memories to be treasured.

        And you’ve brought many such memories for us all to hold and treasure within your beautiful landscapes and unique perspectives through the eyes of your lens.

        The thank you is all mine. 🙏 … And loved the Roy Rogers footnote 🐎 😉

  26. Hello Dalo,
    What can be said that has not already been said!
    Love to seeing your excellent photographs! They
    remind me of places already visited and places I
    would still love to go! Nothing like that outdoor
    adventure with great time on your hands is there?
    Maybe again someday I’ll have such an adventure.
    Until then I’ll happy reading all your tales of travel.
    They are more then exciting they are memorable.
    enjoy life dear man, Eddie

    • Agree; when it comes to having some free time and a place to spend it ~ somewhere out in nature is the answer 😊. Being able to take horses up into the Sierra Wilderness was a rare treat and a trip I am grateful for being able to make. The more time passes, the more I realize there is less of it to see the places I’ve always dreamt about. Cheers to you, Eddie, and let’s make autumn one to remember. Take care ~

  27. That first step into nature… again. Enlivening, always. I’ve just spent several months in the different ranges in Colorado. I’m always awed, again and again.
    Your photos as always, are breathtaking. Kudos particularly on the Milky Way shot. Humbling.
    May your continuing moments be filled with growing wisdom, compassion and eye for beauty.
    Safe travels,

    • The Colorado mountains are a destination as well ~ I’ve dreamt of passing through the Rockies on foot many times… always imagined the adventures of Lewis & Clark when doing so 🙂 You are living the experience now, SE, and I can imagine all the breathtaking scenes you have seen… and the challenges along the way which make such a worthwhile adventure ~ wish you days of wisdom, compassion, and endless beauty as you continue riding the trail you’ve created. Thank you for the insightful words ~

  28. What a wonderful post Randall …such stunning photography .. and your narration takes me there! … The freedom of silence, so special! Thank you

    • Thank you very much, Julie. The silence of the night, and early mornings of nature are something special 🙂

  29. Thank you for taking us on your journey into the John Muir Wilderness. Your photos shine up the beauty and magic of that wonderland so well. Oh! to have seen it on horseback… (she sighs wistfully!)
    “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” Amen!
    That milky sky shot is ephemeral… I can easily (and happily) sink right into it.

    I first fell in love with the Western Slope of the Sierras in the latter half of the 70s. It’s where I shed my Urban roots. May these lands ever be preserved from us tiny humans bent on destroying what remains. It wasn’t until so many years later that we camped looking up at Mt Whitney summit… watching as the sun lit it up in shades of pink and coral. Whatever shall we do if we no longer have that beauty?

    Keep taking us along on your travels. No matter where they might lead. 💞🙏

    A joy just to bear witness that such beauty yet remains.
    And thanks for introducing us to your dad ‘déjà vu.’ 😉

    • Taking horses into the John Muir Wilderness was one of those dreams come true; and it was a friend of mine who put me on this adventure, and it took me less than a minute to agree 🙂 I first thought of the night skies in the Sierra Mountains, void of the usual light pollution that is so difficult to escape – I couldn’t wait to shoot it. It has been great to hear about the stories of friends and acquaintances who have a history in this area, as it makes writing about this trip even more special to me. And I agree with you fully; part of the magic is how this area has been preserved well. Thank you very much, Gunta, and I wish you safe travels on your adventures as well.

  30. I love the Kafka quote and your photographs of this incredible landscape, Randall. How wonderful that you could spend time in the wilderness in which your dad created his own set of memories. What a wonderful link to have.

    “While part of me appreciates the repetitiveness of life, for stability should never be underestimated or undervalued, such moments serve more as a time to recharge for the next moments of chaos: fuel for the fire of life.” So, so true!!

    I hope autumn is a beautiful time for you.

    • Autumn is usually the one season I am most fired up for, but with both my spring & summer being pretty eventful – I wouldn’t mind a nice peaceful autumn watching the colors change 🙂 The time in the Sierra Mountains was one of those adventures I thought I would have had in my 20s, but like many things, I keep putting them off because ‘there is always tomorrow…’ so happy tomorrow finally came. Thank you, Jolandi, and I wish you well out on your adventure in Portugal 🙂

  31. It is an absolute delight to see you write again, Randall. Thought-provoking thoughts as usual, and your photography is always nothing short of stunning. You make the Sierra Mountains look like a place to get lost in and rediscover your youth. So often we forget that youthful spirit or kid in us, and I really enjoyed how you unpacked this feeling along with the true beauty and meaning of life.

    Life is indeed a paradox and contradictory, and each state encourages us to appreciate another so much more or not take things for granted. The untamed wilderness is what you make of it. Either you let is swallow you, or push forward and let your heart and Universe guide you. You never really know what, where or who will come your way. Anything is possible.

    That is amazing to see your dad in that brochure from decades ago. That is something to be treasured, and now you’re essentially reliving those moments together in the wilderness. I guess you’re both showing each other the way now, both young at heart 🙂

    The technological world has many benefits but I do agree with you that it also presents unconscious constraints and it’s so easy to get caught up in and forget what it’s like to be free. The most scary part about it is forgetting what truly makes your spirit sing, bound by expectations of false realities and you lose that youthful ideal in you. Beauty and seeing beauty is such a powerful thing – and to truly realise what that really means, you have to let go and surrender to the stillness and beyond.

    Wonderful work as usual. It’s Spring over here….and I take that it’s Autumn for you. So happy fall to you and take care 🙂

    • Yes, this trip was the perfect respite from work and my reliance on technology, especially with Covid and dealing with China/USA/Czech ~ I’ve been blown away at how smoothly technology has made work. However, I still felt a bit uneasy with all that was going on. This trip into the Sierra Mountains and spending such a period with the silence of nature, no dings of emails or messages, was perfect and surprisingly easy. I could get used to such a life pretty quickly ~ but the comforts of a modern world would eventually entice me back :-). Thank you, Mabel, for the great message and comment. I hope you are gearing up for a great spring down-under; it is a magical season. Take care ~

      • I guess once you get set up with technology, remote work becomes so, so easy. Technology is so powerful in that it allows us to connect and know so many others. But then again, going out in nature is also a kind of medicine that we need. So I guess we learn and live both and ways 🙂 For me, summer is the magical season, always 🙂

  32. Hi Randall, What an inspiration seeing your glorious photos and reading your words. Love the quotes you’ve chosen. You were fully immersed in nature and reveling in its peaceful beauty. And your Dad proudly holding a fish in the pamphlet is a perfect touchstone. We are heading to Yosemite in a couple of weeks and have never driven over the pass to Mono Lake but your adventure has got me thinking. We won’t be camping or on horseback but we will be slowing down, photographing and appreciating the unspoiled wilderness. And your night shot of the stars is fabulous! Thanks for a most enjoyable post.

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