Astounding Yosemite Hike

After the first UFW labor convention was held in Fresno from September 21-23, 1973, Joan and I decided to visit Yosemite for a natural uplift. We rented a tent in Curry Village at the floor of Yosemite Valley not far from swift flowing, Yosemite River. My body and mind felt so relaxed in this pristine environment, I laid back and allowed the sun to warm me and the wind to blow in my face. Attracted by the magnetic force of nature’s beauty everywhere, we walked out through the waving meadows, towering pines, and resting deer to steepled rock formations and fallen red woods.

We were mesmerized by the reflections of nature in the Yosemite River! Most of the water flowing in Yosemite comes from snow-melt in the high country, so runoff decreases during the dry summer. Peak runoff typically occurs in May or June, with some waterfalls often only a trickle or completely dry by August. Other waterfalls, including Vernal, Nevada, and Bridalveil run all year; however, their flow can be very low by late summer.

 

Near Yosemite Lodge, I watched the smoothed rocks glistening through the surface of the river from eons of time, billions of molecules of water striking surfaces, ever shaping the meandering river so that it appears different each visit.

Our trek took us to a bridge and the ever-energetic Vernal Falls tumbling from a precipice a few miles away yet in walking distance up a steep pathway of seemingly carved rock. As we ascended the pathway known as the Mist Trail, we traveled under overhangs and around huge granite formations balancing carefully close to the mountain’s edge. Our eyes drifted to the chasm below ever spiraling down to a pool of greenish blue clear water.

There the sparkling waterfall dropped its winding column of water twisting in the wind over a four hundred foot fall, then shattered the silence with its skittering splashing sounds. Nature had created a rainbow that quivered with the falling water separating into one, two, or three waterfalls in a constantly changing pattern.

Slowly as we trudged carefully on an incline flexing our hamstrings and calf muscles with a full stretch each lunge, we eventually reached an escarpment where we rested. I looked down above the wavy stream of descending translucent chilled liquid from the melting snow-pack above. As we looked upstream, we observed a natural channel through which the blue green fluid passed over a bronze smooth volcanic surface. There it had cut patterns over the many years of erosive activity as if nature had taken a knife to sculpt it for the pleasure of those who admire it. We had reached a hard fought location where the view of Vernal Falls appeared completely different from the vantage point of the pedestrian bridge. Most travelers only saw it from that quick stop and did not tackle the steep and challenging rugged trail we enjoyed.

In another half mile we reached the vista all Yosemite visitors covet, which one can see even from Yosemite’s Valley at the right perspective. We had an unobstructed view of Half Dome and a 360-degree panoramic spectacle of the surrounding peaks, crags, mountains, and huge granite boulders of every size and dimension under white puffy clouds dotted with patches of blue sky.

Red Tailed Hawks, Falcons, Buzzards flew in circles riding thermals and gliding great distances when they rhythmically moved their outstretched wings. We saw Steller’s Jay, American Robin, Acorn Woodpecker, Ravens, and Mountain Chickadees in the pine forests and near rivers and streams American Dipper Dart, White and Gray Herons, and a curious squirrel.

Yosemite Valley’s astounding and marvelous rock formations soaked our spirit. Hungry for sights foreign to the flat San Joaquin Valley, magnificent splendor contrasted with our Bakersfield shanty. We gradually worked our way down a mule path, which dropped rapidly. Soon the trail’s angle encouraged us to trot, then lope like deer. We tried to find a cadence and rhythm to ease our way down. Ever nearer the edge, we followed the trail until we reached the Valley floor.

We returned to our tents in tranquility to dream of the astounding images we had seen. At sunrise, we left this wonderland on the curving road back to work, industry, and commitment. We felt refreshed from our energetic experience of nature’s most wonderful gifts that feed the soul, always available to the observant when in need of inspiration.

 

Daniel C. Lavery, www.danielclavery.com, djasb@aol.com

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Meet an Immense Goliath: Hercules

When King Kong protected me

From harm as I rode his back,

Brookfield Zoo Gorilla cage

At forty through thick window,

Stared in the eyes of immense

Five hundred pound Goliath

Munching grapes like emperor.

Sunny mood, gentle with mice,

Endless quarts of milk swallowed

Brute's brown bristle-brush torso,

Rough-hewn wrinkled hairy head,

Divided by muscle wall

My frame cast dappled shadow

On grey rock sanctuary.

My boys romped to ape's shelter

Before wife with baby came

Giant arose like mountain,

Lightening blaze from fire eyes

Grasped my gaze, enraged  he dashed

Smashed thunder fists on thick glass

Shattering serenity

Terror-stricken faces jumped

Back from rattling refuge cave.

Black janitor smiled and said,

“Don’t you know how to read, man?”

Mortified, body shaking,

Looked at sign above his den

"Never stare in gorilla’s eyes,

it challenges his space.”

Farewell Barkley Devoted Friend

                                   Barkley

Squirrel Barkley

                        Wet brown Lab shakes and shimmers in the sun

                        Leaping from pool water streaks from brown blur

                     Teeth clutching red ball he lands on stone deck.

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                        Rippling muscles over sleek fur jostle spraying water

                        Strutting chest out wagging raised happy tail

                        Brown eyes sparkle leaving paw tracks when he runs.

Squirrel Ginger and Barkley together near garden

  “Release! Drop!” We implore for another toss.

                        When set to retrieve he opens his jaw

                        Panting, and whining, urging us to throw.

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We grasp and whirl curled rope of cherry sphere.

                        He dashes, leaps, and hurtles legs spread,

                        Crashes the surface his teeth on its mark:

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                        An obsessive wild dance with reckless abandon.

                    His moist broad head fur glistens like a Grizzly’s.

                     He pursues the target into a rosemary hedge.

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   Returns wafting a spicy aroma and

                        His intense glare demands, “Throw it again.”

                     He hears a siren and coyote-howls to the sky.

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Tame, lovable, tenacious, and instinctive.

Loves all family members and friends

           We will pine for you pure devoted friend

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Dan Lavery Reads at Vroman’s Bookstore with IWOSC

Hi Friends: I read a portion of my memoir about the Alaskan wilderness in a yellow panel truck with Joan, me, and our black Lab, Shiva.The occasion was IWOSC’s Reads Its Own on Sunday August 9, 2015   In the picture you can find me in the back row with a grey hat. Everyone brought their own unique, creative style. We all enjoyed the day.

IWOSCrioAug2015

Our first night we stopped at a beautiful lakeside campsite just across the Canadian border. After parking our camper at the top of a hill overlooking the expansive lake surrounded by pines, and conifers, we walked out with Shiva on a leash attached to her red collar as California Law required, gold name tag dangling, her black coat shimmering in the sunlight, and she whined and tugged.

“Take that leash off that dog!” the burly husband said with a smile, “You’re in British Columbia.” After unleashing Shiva she dashed down the hill and plunged in the lake with a glorious SPLASH. A flock of Canadian Geese scattered honking and cackling. Each black head and neck, white chinstrap, light tan breast, and brown back rose in the sunset transforming the spectacle from tranquil to cacophonous, yet picturesque. Shiva swam around, lunged out, and raced back to me panting with her pink tongue hanging out. “Good girl, Shiva,” I said, scratching her neck and petting her black shiny head. She looked up in gratitude and shook water all over me. Joan and our new camp friends laughed and then made a fire for a BBQ. A feeling of freedom, fresh air, and the smell of pine trees, filled us with vigor. A crackling fire, basted chicken breasts, and corn on the cob, put us in the mood for sky watching. The twinkling stars we barely saw in California cities burst forth in the Milky Way galaxy. The “Tea Pot” in Sagittarius and Scorpio’s tail sparkled. We soon were in sleeping bags with Shiva at our feet.

We drove through the pristine roads of British Columbia dotted with pines, oaks, and maples on our way to Prince Rupert. A Tlingit village that featured tall totem poles was celebrating a holiday and offered a canoe trip with a guide who told us their version of the creation story known as the Raven Cycle:

“Raven steals the stars, the moon, and the sun from Naas-sháki Shaan, the Old Man at the Head of the Nass River who kept them in three boxes. Raven transforms himself into a hemlock needle and drops into a water cup belonging to the Old Man's daughter. She becomes pregnant from this and gives birth to a baby boy. Raven cries until the Old Man hands him the Box of Stars, another with the moon, and a third with the sun. Raven opens the lid and the stars escape into outer space. He rolls the box with the moon in it out the door where it flees to the heavens. Raven waits until everyone is asleep, changes into his bird form, grasps the sun in his beak, opens the box, and the sun breaks free into the blue sky.”

“That’s a beautiful and interesting myth,” I said.

“It is not a myth. This is our truth. We teach our children what our ancestors shared with us. Never call the Raven Cycle a myth,” she reprimanded me angrily. Realizing I had put my foot in my mouth while seeking to learn about their culture, it occurred to me in awhile my clients in Alaska had their traditions and stories, which I would respect, and apologized to our Indian guide for using the word myth; but I had caused some damage. You can’t unring a bell.

Once we reached Prince Rupert, we boarded a ferry for the Inland Passage to Haines. We slept on deck chairs outside when the crew secured our yellow truck alongside other vehicles. After ninety miles we arrived at Ketchikan, known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” home of all five species of salmon who inhabit the streams and waters of the Tongass for spawning, leaving their roe on the gravel. We took Shiva out for a walk along Ketchikan Creek, which flows through the town.

When she saw salmon leaping up the “fish ladder” they climb to spawn at the top, she barked and raced to the edge filled with an electric charge of energy. I feared she would jump in and directed her back on the path that followed the creek through the primeval forest. The gravel beds are the end of the salmon’s struggle and are so thick with numbers the shallow streams were black with fins and twisting fish. Shiva smelled the dying salmon that had spawned, hurtled over logs, and bolted through underbrush in a frenzy searching for wildlife. Sand hill cranes, trumpeter swans, black-tail deer, porcupines, and wolves roamed the area. Red cedar, yellow-cedar, mountain hemlock, spruce, and shore pine were everywhere. Nature had aroused Shiva and us with such energy, we chased our black bouncing streak laughing with joy. We rested under hemlock and spruce and gave our Lab food and water next to an alpine meadow covered with pink fireweed, blue lupine and yellow poppies. A Ferry whistle brought us back to reality.

After we got underway we saw killer whales and porpoises jumping and playing alongside the ferry. Bald eagles soared on thermals. Dall porpoises have black backs and white bellies resembling killer whales, but are much smaller, and generated a “rooster tail” spray visible for twenty feet. They were “bow riding”—a pressure wave like the blast of wind that follows a passing truck—they sidled up under the surface and rode inside the pressure wave.

At the next stop we left the ferry to see the capital of Alaska, Juneau. The mountains sloped down to the water where it rests along the shoreline. The Tlingit Indians used the adjacent Gastineau Channel as one of their favorite fishing grounds for thousands of years. The native culture, rich with artistic traditions, included carving, weaving, orating, singing, and dancing.

The Juneau visitor center presented a spectacular view of the Mendenhall Glacier, a massive mountain of ice with cracks and fissures that revealed tints of blue and gray. The sound of ice chunks tumbling into the water roared as the waves caused from violent forces shook floating icebergs sending ripples in the surface. The Mendenhall reached its point of maximum advance in the mid-1700s, while its terminus rested almost two and a half miles down the valley from its present position. The mighty glacier started retreating as its annual rate of melt began to exceed its yearly total accumulation. Its bulk now retreats at a rate of one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet a year. Global warming has accelerated the process so the glacier will disappear in several centuries.

(Excerpt from All the Difference, by Daniel C. Lavery)

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Memories of Dad on his Birthday

Posted on April 29, 2013 by Daniel C. Lavery(Click on photos to read and expand)

He was born in Morgan Park Illinois April 28 of 1910

Athletic, scholarly, and musical who became a man of men

Loving animals and horses, especially his own called "Pep"

He was handsome and polished and seldom out of step

Possessed of musical talent he played the piano and the trumpet

Strumming the ukulele he sang about a honky-tonk strumpet

An outstanding Morgan Park Military Academy Grad

His achievements, skills, and talents made his family most glad

Appointed to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis

Brought his father, Poppy, and mother, Gammie, exceptional bliss

   

Richard J. Lavery Jr, Midshipman, USNA, 1928-32

   

(Dad as a midshipman at Annapolis)

Basketball, soccer, baseball, football, lacrosse, sailing, and even polo

At formal recitals he played many a magnificent trumpet solo

While a midshipman he fell for a beautiful debutant: Hilda Crim

Her grace and beauty, love of tennis and raccoons, made his head swim

Soon they were married after he graduated in nineteen thirty two

During the Great Depression, an insurance career he wisely did pursue

He raised a family with a lovely girl and two athletic boys

And gave unselfishly to provide for them a multitude of joys

Music, stories, travel, camping, sports, fishing to name only a few

He filled their lives with these and always found more for them to do

Dad naval officer photo story Our Picture of the Month USS George F. Elliot

(Dad leaves for World War II after eight years as an insurance agent 1932-40)

Uncle Sam came a-calling him to return to face the brutal enemy

In ruthless World War II with fascist dictators and gross barbarity

A gunnery officer on the George F. Elliott, a transport ship

At Guadalcanal what seemed in the smoke-filled sky only a blip

Grew into a descending Japanese warplane known as a Kamikaze

That his blazing guns tore into but instead of falling into the sea

Struck the Elliot broadside in a deadly gasoline fed fireball

Down to a sea grave slowly went the transport as nothing could stop its fall

 A friendly destroyer rescued the crew that fearful and fateful day

 Because of brave me like "Bull" Halsey and a man known as "R.J."

 Yamamoto and his fleet were left limping and slinked back to Tokyo

 Our proud protectors of liberty forced the foolish fascists where to go

 On to Korea when duty called him again in nineteen fifty three

 Commanding officer of an amphibious ship called an "LSD"

The USS Whetstone with Lavery at the helm was a beauty at sea

    CHAPTER 7 USS Whetstone (LSD-27)                                    (USS Whetstone(LSD-27))

It was Dad's first command and he did her splendidly

Even rescued capsized Japanese fishermen he noticed adrift

Opened the dry-dock saving men and boat in a manner swift

Earned honors from Japan and our Navy for his humanitarian deed

He was never one to by-pass helpless persons at sea in need

Rescued hundreds of fleeing Vietnamese from Saigon

By navigating the Whetstone in the shallow river Mekong

His crew enjoyed the way he played his ukulele and sang a song

He was a model naval captain who knew and taught right from wrong

Gained respect and honor for his naval skill and industrious toil

Commanded the USS Chemung carrying to the fleet precious oil

USS Chemung (AO 30) head on (Dad when a Navy Captain and the USS Chemung he captained)

Retired from Naval Service after a dedicated thirty years

And became one of those McDonnell Douglas Quality Control Engineers

He always provided for his family as he was a frugal man

Invested for his and their future and prepared a well-organized plan

He cared for his loving mother when she became ill and very old

Took her to many doctors because his heart was made of gold

 When his sister Jane's diabetes became the brutal brittle type

 He gave up his Long Beach ocean view and moved close without a gripe

 As he grew older he fractured his left hip and was forced to use a cane

Then a wheelchair, had another fracture that caused excruciating pain

He found peace when he played his ukulele and launched into singing

To our family and his dog Pablo when on life he was barely clinging

Dad, we will always remember you for the memories you left us all

And hold high the course you navigated while you always stood tall

Duty, honor, country, family and pets, to these you were always true

We are proud on your birthday to always respect and honor you.

Dad, Paul, Jane back Val, Chip, and Dan Morgan Park  1945,Hilda and Val and Jane and Val 1939

(Dad, Uncle Paul, Aunt Jane top, Val, Chip, and Dan

Mom and Val

Val and Aunt Jane)

Valerie and Chip 1939(Val and Chip 1939)CHAPTER 11Chip Plebe year Annapolis 1956

(Chip an Annapolis midshipman-plebe 1956)

CHAPTER 21 Dan by wall third class year Annapolis 1961

(Dan a midshipman at Annapolis near a wall some people scaled on a boring weekend night)

Dad, Nicky, Paige, Tico, Dan, and Valerie Lee June 1956

(Valerie Lee, Dan, Paige and Tico, Dad, and Nicky at Yokosuka 1956)

Dad at Yokosuka Naval base Japan 1955 (Dad as commanding officer Headquarters Support Activity Yokosuka, Japan 1955-57) Captain Richard J. Lavery, Jr. USN

Dad's Memorial 4 28 09(Richard John Lavery Jr.,  Apr 28, 1910-Mar 8, 1998)

 

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