Sacred Lands

After traveling much of September and October, I have returned home and settled back into the routine. It’s hard to know where to begin to update readers on all that has happened.

I will start with a piece of the National Park’s trip. At the end of September, my friend Viviane and I went on a ten-day journey to visit sacred lands from California to New Mexico. The impetus for the trip was that I am working on a new novel called Here After which takes place in the months following 9-11. Some of the characters in the novel end up driving to New York from San Francisco in what becomes a pilgrimage to bring the wisdom of the sacred lands of this country to NYC and the devastation there. I found in writing it that I needed to visit these places in order to write about them. Thus, the trip.

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Berkeley camp entrance–burned trees

The first day, after driving through areas devastated by the fire, we landed in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite. We had to find our camping legs rather quickly that night as Tuolumne Meadows turned out to be the coldest spot in the United States that night. We couldn’t hang around there long in the morning as we had far to go that day, but also it was too cold to dally.

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Tioga Pass

We continued through Tioga Pass down to Mono Lake where we stopped for viewing and to get our bearings and pay homage to those who worked so hard to save that precious lake from being drained by voracious water-users. Yes, we had attacks on this country in New York City, but how much devastation do we do to ourselves that goes almost unreported?  nat'l parks trip 9-13 (25)

Our main destination that day was the Bristle Cone Pine Forest, about an hour’s drive up a mountain from Route 395. It was well worth the extra driving as this forest is home to the world’s oldest living beings, the Bristle Cone Pines. They are 4000 to 6000 years old. I had not heard of these trees before a couple of weeks before we left on the trip when someone I met began telling me about a trip she was taking to the forest.  nat'l parks trip 9-13 (23)When I looked it up on the map and saw that we would be going right by there, we made a point of taking that detour to visit the trees.

As we walked around the forest and I played didgeridoo to some of the trees, I could feel an uncanny presence among them. Several times I looked over my shoulders, sure that some humans were coming up on us, only to see that there were just the trees. These trees have learned how to survive in very harsh conditions, high altitude, strong winds, extremes of hot and cold and poor soil.

nat'l parks trip 9-13 (31)nat'l parks trip 9-13 (32)Their presence felt watchful and full of gratitude for the interaction as they absorbed more than just nutrients from their roots. I could sense an openness to our presence, a way in which they may have been taking in even the small amount of energy we were offering them. Perhaps this is the evolutionary step that makes them able to survive on so little.

Maybe they have learned how to appreciate even the smallest gesture of connection, take it in, let it nurture them. I wanted to sit at their roots for long periods of time and to see if I could learn it too. This place could surely be a destination for the future.

5 comments on “Sacred Lands

  1. Hi — I’ll read this fully later, but wanted to tell you I started going to Tuolumne with my family when in grammar school. Then, the camp sites were enormous and it was dirt campers only. We didn’t have these great big travel buses then. Continued to go through the late 70s, walking through the high-sierra camps, but the camp sites got much smaller and there were now the big travel buses. It wasn’t the same and the bears were smarter. When I was young, the rangers would take the obnoxious bears from the valley floor and transport them to Tuolumne. Then when they got obnoxious in Tuolumne, the rangers transported them somewhere else — don’t remember where. I have no idea what it is like there now, but it was one of my favorite places to go. We used to fish in this high sierra lake where the fish were a combo of trout and salmon, and they were small and the most delicious fish I had ever tasted. Plus, Soda Springs is up there too. The soda comes right out of the ground and it is delicious. Did you get any?

    • elisepeeples says:

      Missed getting the soda… Viviane did tell a story of when she was a kid and used to go there with her family and they had what was called a firefall where at night they poured kerosine over the falls and lit it to make a firefall, Wow, what we weren’t conscious of then but are more so now!

  2. smilecalm says:

    how wonderful to offer the dig to those ancient beings, thanks. remember when you played in Berkeley?

    • elisepeeples says:

      I remember. And how you so kindly videotaped me and let me put it on my website. We miss you in the Bay Area. I am so glad to receive your blogs but they are hardly compensation for your being gone…

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