This photo is being offered as an invitation to “Vashon Jane,” and other mountain lovers, to make a spirit visit to one of the most sacred Biodesign trail junctions. This one was not a typical right/left junction; either of those options would have resulted in death. This option was of a vertical nature and involved the choice of whether to climb the mountain or not. BOFAW readers will recognize this as the place where: Hannah wept; the class intellectual said, “I find this situation highly intimidating;” someone asked, “can we pray before we go up there?”; a “body” careened wildly down from the cloud enshrouded Dome; my palms were like “Stickeen’s” paws, bloody and sore; and Kaarin and I were engaged in a very slow, very strange dance as she labored to put each frozen foot on top of a waiting boot. It was a wonderful/awful place that became both a metaphor and a cautionary tale about the possible risks and perils that awaited those students who looked up the Dome and were not afraid to climb. Some of them are still climbing.
Excerpt: BOFAW, “Cindy.”
We were sitting in the sunny meadow at the base of Half Dome in
our final circle before returning home. One of the chaperones was an
Army vet and with tears in his eyes said, “You kids have formed bonds
that are usually only formed in the heat of battle; it has been an honor
to climb that rock with you.”
I could not have said it better. 20 of the 24 Biodesign Classes had the privilege of facing this junction and it was both an honor and privilege for me to share with them.
PS. Probably in response to the outbreak of the hantavirus, Yosemite Rangers have announced that there have been so many Half Dome permit cancellations that they are readily available. The cables will be lowered on or about 10-8-12. The fall was John Muir’s favorite time of year. He lamented about people “being so time poor that they could not take a pillow case filled with dried bread rolls, a pocket full of tea bags, a wool blanket and spend a glorious month in his beloved Temple.