This used to be a great place to sit quietly and listen to frogs, and wind. Now it’s bone dry, and there’s no glacier runoff, or even a glacier. All gone.

:: Looking East across Tuolumne Pass and over Tuolumne Meadows, from just under 12,000ft, near Evelyn Lake, Yosemite ::

The subalpine and alpine zones, right around tree line, in Yosemite, are laced with jewell like streams and ponds, are fed by glaciers and are usually filled with life.

Well, at least they used to be.

On one evening, years ago, I spent hours sitting right here, on these rocks, next to the water. The pond was teeming with life. It was about this time of year too, late summer and just before the snows. The sun had already set and the air was cooling off fast. Thousands of frogs were singing their hearts out. The pond was pretty deep. You can still see the water line on the faces of these erratics, left by glaciers eons ago. Even when the streams run dry, this pond almost always was an oasis of life. I’ve been coming here to enjoy true peace, up here close to heaven, for the better part of my life. This plateau near Fletcher Lake, Townsley Lake, Vogelsang Peak and Evelyn Lake and high above Tuolumne Pass is graced by thousands of these boulders.

The architects of Zen gardens in Kyoto should come here for ideas! The little creeks and streams, fed by yearly snow melt, wind their way through these high altitude plateaux on their way down to feed into the much larger streams and rivers that eventually feed the Tuolumne River. Their time worn design, sculpted by the massive forces of nature, are perfect. I love this magic land and know it’s complex topography almost by heart. The Cathedral, Clarke and Ritter Ranges converge up here. When I was a lot younger I explored and played on many of the nearby peaks and glaciers. John Muir called these mountains “The Range of Light”. Ansel Adams brought their majesty, in photographs, to an awed public.

My First Summer in The Sierra, John Muir, 1911 ::
“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. Our flesh-and-bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about us, as if truly an inseparable part of it, thrilling with the air and trees, streams and rocks, in the waves of the sun,—a part of all nature, neither old nor young, sick nor well, but immortal.”

After discovering one of my favorite stopovers was completely dried up, I decided to follow the usual course of Evelyn Lake’s outlet down into the headwaters of Rafferty Creek. No surprise at all but so sad to discover. Most of Rafferty Creek was also completely dry. Places where I swam and fished for years and years, since my teens, are now completely devoid of any water. At the bottom of Rafferty Creek there are huge stone bridges spanning nothing but river rock boulder fields.

My intention is to continue the series of images from this one, tiny, dried up waterway; so I hope to append this post soon. It’s gentle beauty, literally at the top of the Sierras, is humbling. I can go empty and be refilled to overflowing in this sublime landscape.

I’d say pray for rain but I’m not sure that works. We humans have initiated a major shift in our planet’s history. It’ll survive but I’m not so sure about most of the life forms now gracing this, or any landscape. Maybe the folks who’ve profited from polluting and killing life on this fragile planet should come up here and spend some time. To say the experience is priceless is cliché, but it’s true. These precious little ecosystems are literally the source.