Navigating the Sierra Nevada Cloudlands

Whenever I get the opportunity to head to the mountains my eyes always turn skyward and marvel at the interplay of clouds and peaks. Like the moai on Easter Island searching for whatever it is they’re looking for just over the horizon, I trace the moisture as it’s thrust upward and wrung from the atmosphere by the hulking granite of the Sierra Nevada in cathedrals clouds of billowy cumulus. I stare in awe. Sure I probably look like an idiot with my eyes glazed and unblinking standing around looking at the hills, but I really don’t care how I look. I can watch this show for hours. I’m positive the moai feel the same way.

Which is exactly what I did last week during a ride up and over Tioga Pass into Yosemite Park and back: I watched the show. It was a glorious spring day for a ride with crisp air to breathe, cool water to filter from the streams and a show overhead on the great whirling diamond of the sky. In addition I also had the good timing to ride a couple of days before a late season dump of 12-18″ of snow closed the pass too. Although I’ve never won anything in the lottery I guess I’m a lucky guy. Just for fun, on the way up through the Eastern Sierra I also dropped in on the Alabama Hills for a fat bike excursion through the Mars-scape that exists out in the shadow of Mt Whitney. It felt good to pedal through the sand.

Two great rides navigating the cloudlands through miles of silent thought while riding some of the most inspiring landscapes in North America. Not too shabby for a guy that just finished his hip physical therapy and is starting to get back into shape.

Of course John Muir had already beat me to the cloud observations, it seems that guy thought of everything (something tells me he didn’t waste much time watching TV):

“Another midday cloudland, displaying power and beauty that one never wearies in beholding, but hopelessly unsketchable and untellable. What can poor mortals say about clouds? While a description of their huge glowing domes and ridges, shadowy gulfs and canons, and featheredged ravines is being tried, they vanish, leaving no visible ruins. Nevertheless, these fleeting sky mountains are as substantial and significant as the more lasting upheavals of granite beneath them. Both alike are built up and die…”

The next post will be about rocks. Wow, rocks and clouds – what an interesting blog huh?

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