It is another icy, wind-scoured October night. The milky peaks are so close you could touch them. A clear bright moon sails across the deep, wind-tossed, star-filled sky.
Two thousand feet below, Yosemite is ablaze with a handful of twinkling diamonds clutched from the heavens and scattered across the floor of the Valley, constellations familiar from uncounted bivouacs: The Curry Village, The Lodge, Housekeeping, The Upper Pines.....
Stand, with your toes hanging over the void in this moonlight and wind, with tourist-like trust in the two-inch pipe railing at the brink of Yosemite Point. Walk west along the railing, along the rim of the Valley, under the bright sky, to where the railing ends, the abyss expands and the cliff retreats into the night; where rising from this dark engulfment is a single, silver-grey and black apparition, a magical needle of moonlit stone so close, so unreachable, so remarkable in its intense isolation as to be a vision from beyond the Valley of Dreams.
If you listen here this evening, listen to the silence beyond the wind whistling through the waxy manzanita leaves and ponderosa pine branches, listen with your mind, you will hear dimly at first, then more clearly through the night breeze, echoes from the past: Whispers and jingling of ghostly voices and phantom carabiners; reverberating shouts of triumph like bright, distant flashes of sunlight on the sea; Laughter like moonlight on a brook; The chill sobbing of empty grief like a deep cold pool in the darkness.
Listen and you will hear a multitude of voices this moonlit night: Richard Leonard, John Salathe, Anton Nelson..... Irving Smith.... You will hear their voices echoing off these high peaks; They who were here before you: Pioneers and prophets, who struggled, triumphed, suffered, and sometimes died climbing this tower of stone: Theirs and other voices blending together in a chorus in the starlit sky.
It is the late night side of dawn. You shiver deeper into the pile jacket, and turn back from this vision, down a rough gravel trail, across polished moonswept granite slabs, toward a campfire now burned to embers, toward a few hours sleep. In the morning, in the startling sunlight of a new day, you will add your voice to theirs-- in the joy of triumph, the disappointment of defeat, or the grief of tragedy. Tomorrow night, as you stumble, exhausted, filthy, and sore, down a trail vague in the dark shadow of oak, your echo, too, will dance in the moonlight of the high peaks.
Lost Arrow Spire:
© 1993 Bruce Bindner
© 1996 Ikhaya Design Studio