Yosemite, USGS, and Smoky Jack Meadow


Smoky Jack Meadow

What do you see in this picture?

Unless you have been here, you probably don’t see the same image I do.  Beyond the borders of the picture could be anything.  For me, it is more mountains, crags, and trees.  The campfire ring we spent many cold nights huddled around, the stream for water, the rocky crag we ate lunch on to evade the swarms of mosquitoes.  I even see the mosquitoes in this picture, millions of the little bastards all vying for a patch of warm skin exposed.

This was some time in July of 2011 and I was just beginning my new job with the USGS backpacking throughout the park as a biologist.  Before we came here first, we had some meetings and the bosses told us of Smoky Jack meadow and how we were going to get there and what we were mostly going to try and do while there.  We even saw some pictures.

I thought, “what a pretty meadow”, and immediately started constructing mental images of what else was there.  Mountains, trees, springs, maybe a deer or two trying to find shelter from a summer thunderstorm. Now, my mental image of this place as I had imagined it has been replaced by the one I created after spending much of that month of July camped on the meadow’s edge.  And maybe some of my memories of this place are merely composite images of reality and what I thought it would be.

Then we hiked in and it was not a long hike or particularly difficult hike.  Although we took a secret trail in and got lost several times on the hikes out.  Once we got there, I found the meadow to be quite large and wet.  And the mosquitoes were the worst I had ever had the pleasure of experiencing.  So bad, covering from head to toe in rain coats, two-layers of pants, and socks and gloves still got you perhaps several dozen bites a day.  But it was beautiful and peaceful and alone.

Since this was the first meadow I spent much time at for this new job, it is one that most reminds me of Yosemite and the High Sierra.   And it was here, from the point of view of the picture, that I started to write little bits of experiences.  I mean little because I could not write much in my “3 1/4 x 4 5/8 with 24 Numbered Pages ‘Rite in the Rain’ notepad” that I carried all summer.  And I was just starting to seriously consider writing as a hobby and not just for school or work and maybe was timid.  But I wrote – little jottings that would stimulate my memory at some later time to write more about my experiences.  And I would rely on these jottings and my memory to write and the details I could not remember exactly I could just make up or at least recreate as reasonably as I could without too much embellishment.

July 7 2011 – I am in Yosemite now for the Toad Project.  Several of us camped just above a meadow last night.  We are surrounded by peaks.  It is beautiful. Mosquitoes are quite bad now.  It rained some yesterday on our hike in.  It is a little cloudy now, may get more rain later in the day.  This job is so relaxing.  A splendid relaxation period since school ended.

July 8 2011 – I am sitting atop a rocky knoll which separates 2 fingers of the large meadow on the north end.  We have spent the last 2 nights camping just above this behemoth meadow.  From the eagle-eye-view I have sitting on this granite stone, I can see seven peaks surrounding me, all of which I believe to be at least 11,000 feet tall.  Some, I reckon, are above 12,000 feet elevation.

Now, almost 3 years later I am fulfilling my promise to myself to write more about some of these things. And although I feel my memory to be pretty good, I know some things might not be exactly what happened.  But, just like in the picture, our mental images can change over time.  Our experiences replace our preconceived ideas with reality and maybe some of the time when our mind does not want the reality, it instead seamlessly reconstructs a patchwork of both.

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2 thoughts on “Yosemite, USGS, and Smoky Jack Meadow

  1. Pingback: Yosemite, USGS, and Smoky Jack Meadow | touching grey

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