Tuolumne Poetry Festival

I had a grand weekend up in Tuolumne: a wonderful literary experience, Mobil station dining, a gorgeous hike, and even a couple of thunderstorms to satisfy my weather addiction.

For those of you who have not yet attended a program at Parsons Memorial Lodge, let me introduce you to the terrific offerings that ranger Margaret Eissler assembles each summer. Margaret is the “heart” of Tuolumne Meadows. She spent the summers of her early childhood in Tuolumne (if you look at the exhibits at Parsons Lodge you can see several photographs of Margaret as a child), as her parents were caretakers at the lodge, and began working in the park herself in 1985.

Each summer she organizes a series of lectures at Parsons. On Saturday, Jock Reynolds, Director of the Yale University Art Gallery, gave a slide presentation on photographer Emmet Gowin. His work is collected in the book, Emmet Gowin: Changing the Earth Aerial Photographs. He was joined by a surprise guest, author Terry Tempest Williams (a contributor to Emmet’s book), who gave an impassioned reading of her work and somehow gave us hope, even given the current world situation, that our wild places won’t be forever lost.

Check the program listings in Yosemite Today on the NPS website for a complete schedule of events. Some upcoming programs at Parsons to note: Butterflies of the Sierra, a slide presentation by naturalist Bob Stewart and the Tuolumne Meadows Poetry Festival featuring David Mas Masumoto and Tom Crawford.

During the event, rain clouds strolled lazily above us and watered the meadows. Not to be outdone by the speakers, the storm asserted its presence with some crashes of thunder and flashed a few streaks of lightning. Few scenes are as picturesque as a thunderstorm over the High Sierra.

The next day the storm system, which was probably the residue of Hurricane Claudette appeared to have dissipated. Although it rained into the night, we awoke to find clear sunny skies in Tuolumne and looked forward to a perfect day to climb some mountains.

My partner, Shad, and I had breakfast at Tuolumne Lodge, and spoke with a father and daughter from New Jersey, who were hiking to Glen Aulin that day, and a couple from San Francisco, who were seeking wildflowers. We all expressed the hopeful opinion that the storm system had passed. After all, this is California, where it never rains! I often brag to my friends in the Rockies or back east that I don’t even carry rain gear on most of my excursions. I once spent two weeks on the John Muir Trail without seeing even a cloud in the sky!