What more could so fulfill the human spirit than the sound of waterfalls gushing,  wind dancing through the tops of the tall conifers, birdsong echoing, the scent of pine bark and incense cedars, crystalline air and high granite walls artfully sculpted into graceful formations that soar above you and embrace you in their splendor? It is as if a grand master laid it all out before you and with loving kindness said, “Here. This is for you.”

Yosemite Falls YS004

There are no words to describe Yosemite Valley. It exists to inspire awe in nature’s grandeur, to give inner peace and regeneration. I experience this place as heaven on earth. John Muir called it Nature’s Grand Cathedral, and so it feels. So, please hover your mouse over these images to identify them.

El Capitan Alpinglow 1 YS016

Half Dome Alpinglow & Royal Arches 1

3 Sisters

Intoxicated by the mystique of its scent, I stood beside an incense cedar and took this next picture:

Green Merced

They rode horseback into the great Central Valley of Alta California and the Sierra Nevada foothills. Lieutenant Gabriel Moraga and his expedition sought suitable sites for Spanish missions. Hot, dry and dusty, they had traveled long without water. Mercifully, on September 29, 1806, the thirsty men and their horses came upon the banks of the river. Gratefully relieved, they named the river El Rio de Nuestra Señora de la Merced, The River of Our Lady of Mercy.

John Muir called the Sierra Nevada Mountains “The Range of Light.” He called Yosemite Valley “The sanctum sanctorum of the Sierra.” Glaciers sculpted and polished the granite rock and then retreated 15,000 years ago leaving this pristine valley and its near twin in Yosemite, Hetch Hetchy Valley, 20 miles to the northwest, the Tuolumne Yosemite, as John Muir called it.

Yosemite Vly-Merced River YS003

So, tell me again … why did you dam the Tuolomne and fill Hetch Hetchy with water…?

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir & Dam 1

“These temple-destroyers, devotees of ravaging commercialism, seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature, and instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty Dollar. Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people’s cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.” –John Muir, from The Yosemite (1912), Chapter 15.

First chief of the United States Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot said of damming the Hetch Hetchy, “It is for the good of humanity. The greatest benefit to the greatest number of people.”

Half Dome YS005

Enraptured, I stood in the spray of Bridalveil Fall for a long time and watched it dance on the wind. Bridalveil Fall never runs dry in the summer like the other falls, because it is fed by a living glacier.

Bridalveil Rainbow YS001

Bridalveil Snowstorm 300 copy

Bridalveil Thru Trees YS010

Yosemite New 3

Yosemite Valley Snowstorm YS006

“I wonder if leaves feel lonely when they see their neighbors falling,” John Muir wrote to his daughter.

This day, after I took the above photo looking down into Yosemite Valley with Half Dome in the distance, barely visible just under the clouds, in the right center of the picture, my companions and I got into our car and left the valley. We drove the Tioga Road, high over the Tioga Pass at almost 10,000 feet. It was the month of May. On our way along the road snowflakes began to fall.

–Samantha Mozart







21 Responses to Zen

  1. Mary Burris says:

    I love the mountains, and I especially love the mountain lakes. When I lived in Central Idaho, I would spend my weekends just relaxing by a nearby lake, not doing much of anything but taking in the beauty and splendor and recharging my life batteries for the next week.

    • sammozart says:

      Thank you for coming by, Mary. Relaxing by a mountain lake sounds like just what the doctor ordered for me just now. 🙂 Idaho — I’d love to visit there one day.

  2. Julia says:

    Yosemite is very lush and green. I have not been there in a couple of years, but how are things faring with the drought here in California?

    • sammozart says:

      About the drought I don’t know, Julia. They did have a good Sierra snowpack this year, but I had read where it will take several years of good rain and snowfall to recover from that drought.

      I am emailed an L.A. Times newsletter, but I’ve fallen behind on reading it while attending to the A-Zs.

      Thanks for coming by. I appreciate your comments.

  3. Red says:

    You certainly have some beautiful pictures of some lovely places! (Speaking of being a travel writer!)
    Congrats on surviving the challenge!

    • sammozart says:

      Thank you, Red. Yes, it would be nice to be a travel writer. I haven’t figured out how I can carry that off yet and make it a viable income.

      Contrats to you, too, on surviving the A-Z challenge. I really did enjoy reading your posts.

  4. Susan Bruck says:

    This is a beautiful and inspiring post. Thanks so much for sharing the photos and your thoughts. There is nothing like the beauty of nature to bring peace. We are lucky to have our national parks.

  5. Nature’s bounty can definitely be mystifying. Zen indeed. Congrats on completing the challenge. Being your minion was nice.

    Blog: QueendSheena
    2016 A to Z Participant
    Joy Brigade Minion

    • sammozart says:

      Thank you, Sheena-kay. Glad to have met you on the A-Zs, and thank you for being my minion. 🙂

  6. The perfect quote form Muir to close such an amazing run, Samantha. “I wonder if leaves feel lonely when they see their neighbors falling.” He sure had a way with words when it came to the beauty of nature. And being there sure felt as if a grand master laid it all before us and said — This is for you, enjoy. I imagine it was a treat on top of many treats to see snowflakes on the way in the month of May. Gorgeous all around. Images to leave one in awe.
    It’s been truly wonderful to spend this month with you, Samantha, to read so many beautiful posts, enjoy the images, and read your poetic words.
    Congratulations on completing the Challenge. Now, a break, then back to our normal routine. I look forward to read many, many more of your posts.

    • sammozart says:

      To be able to be out there contemplating nature as John Muir did and then to be able to describe it so evocatively and poetically, yes.

      Thank you for your kind compliments, Silvia. It has been my pleasure to read your beautifully expressed thoughts throughout this series. Congratulations to you, too, on completing the challenge.

      Right, now a break, and I am already thinking about what I want to write next, how to present it. 🙂

  7. Gwynn Rogers says:

    Google, “The Greening of Paradise Valley” the book about Hetch Hetchy. You will find my great grandfather James A. Waymire there. Man, what a GORGEOUS area. Your pictures are stunning. I may sit and stare at your pictures all day and zone-out in a state of Zen to celebrate surviving the A to Z AND everything that transpired this month. Congratulations on an excellent job!

    • sammozart says:

      Thank you. Congratulations to you, too, Gwynn. I will look for that book.

      I would love to stare at these pictures, too — well, in fact, I have throughout writing this post. I have enlarged prints of some of these, too, in the house. So, I get to see them a lot. But, I still have A-Z blog reading to catch up on; plus, related emails to answer. So, I must trek around in the woods a bit more before I’m out.

      Woohoo! Almost out. 🙂

  8. susan scott says:

    Well, Samantha, such beauty! I am astounded and almost speechless. This is zen in its purest form. Zen – in the zone. Nature, in her zone – I would have felt that. It’s been such a joy to go along on this ride with you, the beauty of your photographs and the very interesting history accompanying them. Thank you! How terrific to hover the mouse and get the location –
    Whew! Well done for completion of the A-Z!!!!

    • sammozart says:

      It took me the entire A-Z series to figure out how to mouse hover, Susan. And it’s so simple to set up. Wish I had thought of that in the beginning.

      Zen — Nature in her zone. Thank you for enlightening me on that. I suppose I had thought of it that way, but hadn’t identified it as such. You know, when you enter Yosemite Valley, you come around a bend and suddenly the whole valley opens up before you and there is this unexpected beauty and grandeur. At the Grand Canyon, you go through a conifer forest that suddenly ends at the edge of this cliff and wide open canyon, and you stand there and go, “Oh. Hmm. Awesome.” But when Yosemite Valley opens before you, it’s all green and silver and crystal, and you feel every burden just fall off, like the stream when it reaches the edge of the high granite cliff, and you are at peace, and, for me, at least, I think, oh, this is what it’s all about.

      So, now the A-Zs are over for this year. As you say, Whew! How you went on that Botswana adventure and still managed to get through the A-Zs is quite a feat. Well done to you, too!

  9. Gulara says:

    Simply stunning, Samantha. Wow! You were right – this post is a gem in its own right. And what a way to close the series. So pleased you reached out and we connected. Beautiful!

    • sammozart says:

      I am glad we connected, too, Gulara. I meet the most wonderful and interesting people along this A-Z journey.

      Thank you for coming by and for your lovely comments.

  10. Pat Garcia says:

    My Dear Samantha,

    Looking at your Z post this morning, I am in Austria heading toward Southern Italy in my mind. The photographs remind me so much of Austria, especially around Innsbruck, and Matrei which is almost the last village you drive past when heading toward the Italian border. I usually drive in the direction of Bolzano and Merano when I drive because of the mountains. I love the mountains, and I love sitting on my balcony in my hotel with the sea before me and the mountains in the background.

    You have done a wonderful job of awakening memories that I treasure. They are all in the treasure trove of my mind and you have tickled each one out of its hiding place during this A to Z Blog Challenge.

    Thank you very much.

    Visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge.

    Patricia @ EverythingMustChange

    • sammozart says:

      Having never been to Europe, I am glad to have these images you present of Austria/Italy. Sitting on a balcony with the sea before me and the mountains behind me is my ideal. A music soundtrack springs to mind — Schubert’s “Trout” quintet and Philip Glass’s “Tirol Concerto,” the luxuriously long second movement — pieces perhaps not representative of that exact same area, but close in image, I would imagine. Too, I think if I ever got to Europe you could give me a wonderfully grand tour.

      I have awakened my own treasured memories in producing this series, Patricia. I took myself adventuring along a path I came upon unexpectedly. The Lily Pad of our dreams, I think. Thank so much for your kind and thoughtful comments and compliments.