No Room; But There’s a View

Tuolumne Meadows
Tuolumne Meadows
The Mountains are calling and I Must Go–John Muir

I never get tired of visiting Tuolumne Meadows in the high country of Yosemite National Park in California. My parents traditionally took their two-week vacation to the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which from San Diego was about an 8 hour drive. By the time I was eight years old and my brother was five, we were old enough to finally go with them!

I have been to Tuolumne Meadows 23 times (twice in 1979). “The mountains are calling and I must go.” ― John Muir. Muir wrote volumes about Yosemite and referred to the Sierras as the “the range of light.

Unicorn Peak overlooks Tuolumne Meadows
Unicorn Peak stands watch over the meadows

Although I am not nearly the writer as John Muir, I am still staggered by the beauty of the high country of Tuolumne Meadows. Nearly impossible to capture in a photo, the sunlight shines off of every pine needle, validating the incredible glow as the stately Lodge pole pines reach toward the cerulean sky.

Adding to the light are the granite peaks reflecting their surreal splashes of what one might believe is water. Tens of thousands of years ago, the entire continent of North America was covered in ice. As the Ice Age ended, massive avalanches carrying untold tons of giant boulders and debris scraped and shaped the domes, creating vast, shining sheets of polished rock.

Glacial Polish on Lembert Dome

At sunset, the remnants of glacial polish reflect the fading sunlight, back-lit with an effect known as alpenglow.

At nearly 9,000 feet in elevation, even the night sky is ablaze with the light of billions of stars. The Milky Way is so bright it looks like clouds have made their way over the meadow.

Alpenglow lingers on opposite peaks after sun’s descent

A day or two before our family vacation, my mother would schedule a trip to the library where we would check out a stack of books to take along. It was probably then I developed my love for reading. There was the 8-hour drive in which to enjoy a great book, as well as plenty of leisure time in between hiking and fishing trips. Laying on the meadow among the sedges, listening to the Belding ground squirrels’ high pitched warning whistles, with the gentle breeze whispering in the pine trees, created an imaginative setting for whatever I was reading. As I grew older, I was inspired to write in my journal about whatever teenage troubles I experienced.

Tuolumne Meadows

The Range of Light has infused inspiration into my soul since I walked these meadows in 1968 as an eight year-old. While the camera has its limits to what it can capture, my eyes see the miracle of the incredible beauty that John Muir saw. What scenery he described and illustrated in the late 1800s, I can now capture on my phone 125 years later. That in itself is an inspiration and a step back into time.

As a leisure educator, I revel in these special leisure spaces. Without them, humankind would certainly shrivel and die. I never tire of visiting, whether we stay in the campground or motel camp in nearby Lee Vining. Even more fun is when we go with people who have never been there, and experience the awe and joy through their eyes.


I have been invited by Tiny Expats to share this post on “Show Your World.” Please enjoy my backyard 🙂

43 thoughts on “No Room; But There’s a View

  1. It is so wonderful how this childhood vacation destination has left such a positive impression that it has continued as a tradition.
    Your pictures were breathtaking, your narrative was magical. Yosemite is a park I would love to visit someday!
    Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Terri, you put your heart in every word and yet you described the scenery with rich details that made me wish I were there.
    These are stunning photos to match your descriptions as well.
    Very beautifully done! Way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Our family went camping for many, many summers as I was growing up. Tuolumne Meadows was one of our favorites too! Camping (real tent camping) as a family was such a great way to vacation. I think that simple way of being together – unlike on a huge Disney Cruise ship, for instance – brought us closer and created lifelong memories. Although, like you, I have a great love of books, I have to admit that my brothers and I stocked up on comic books before we left on these trips (which we’d read in the back of the family station wagon).

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  4. Awesome post, pictures and last but not least, you really know how to tell stories. We can feel your love for the place, in every single of your words. Thanks so much for sharing, Yosemite is now on my bucket list!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, really beautiful. Captivating. Love the long history you have with this place. You get the sense of “relationship” from your writing. Thanks!

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  6. I love your photos. I enjoy the mountains as long as I am not driving along them with nothing but huge drop offs on my side. Done that many times but still not crazy about it. However, the splendour and beauty of the mountains enchants me. I have many photos of many mountains taken from the window of an 18-wheeler.

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  7. Such an interesting entry! Love your stylistic approach whereby you write very personally, with a narrative, so that it is like a story that I keep wanting to read. The photos were really great as they showed me what I was meant to imagine, as well as the many facts you included. Fellow nature lovers will really enjoy this 🙂

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  8. Such an amazing spot! I am always blown away by the beauty of nature. I have only seen small mountains in Arkansas, and they were amazing enough. It would be wonderful to see something of that scale. So lovely!

    (I thought this was a great second day writing prompt. I love that we both wrote different styles of posts, but both about nature.)

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  9. Yosemite is at the top of my bucket list. I’ve watched many documentaries/shows/etc. on it and it looks like a magical place. John Muir is awesome and his writings about the park are wonderful. Very beautiful pictures in your post, interesting facts, and nice memories shared. I really enjoyed it. 🙂

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    1. Thank you very much! It IS a magical place. Everyone visits the valley and despite the crowds and heat, it is spectacular. The high country is not as well visited (I should quit promoting it!) but it is equally spectacular. Hope you get to go soon. It’s worth it!

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