We went to the Valley.
It's always a emotional time of year for me; the fall. I think it's because I see it's transformation, so easily witnessed. The leaves change colors and drop, and it's a transition period between two dramatically different times. It's also a time of year that I feel the heaviness of loss and the immense changes that those sorts of times bring, too.
The maple leaves were orange, red and yellow and the light shining through them was almost too beautiful to explain. The air had a certain crispness and things just seemed to make sense. I laid in El Cap Meadow, and I felt like I was sleeping at the feet of a giant. It's funny that it seemed to feel like I was coming home.
That night was the 5oth anniversary of the ascent of the Salathe Wall, ironically, and we got to spend a nice dinner talking to Royal Robbins and his wife Liz (who grabbed a little piece of my heart) and Tom Frost, as well as Ken Yager, who runs the Yosemite Climber's Association, his wife, and Katie D. who runs the Ansel Adams gallery in the Valley. It was quite the evening, and it felt pretty unbelievable that everyone was gathered there together.
The next day, we woke up and had coffee on the porch of Curry Village while we watched the sun change positions behind the maple trees. And when the sun patches were finally settled on our feet, we went on a walk towards Half Dome, exchanging stories the whole way. It felt like a cinematic kind of day, everything was beautiful and dramatic and I felt like a part of something so much bigger. We got to sit with Royal and Tom as they did a book and photograph signing, which was so special. I think there is even some video footage of me talking to the two of them, shot by a film crew that came in.
After spending time in the village, we went over to a favorite tree that we call "The Muir Tree." As we were laying there among the roots, I started to feel sad. It's been five years since the accident, and that's a lot of time. Just as I started to really feel the heaviness of time, several mountain bluebirds flew down into the meadow. And then more showed up. I was shocked to see them, as Ron was telling us that he has never seen them around those parts of the Valley. We sat and watched them dive and twist, and I couldn't help but cry a couple tears. Like the bluebird that is permanently on my side, they were there. It wasn't anything I had thought to ask for on this day.
On the way back, I picked some fresh mint leaves, grabbed a couple maple leaves and then got in the car. Driving home, I was happy. We ate salmon and drank beer, cheering to the good life that my Uncle Todd had lived.
Our lives are meant to be celebrated.