welcome to the haikutimes

Issue #128, Emigrant Wildernes, Stanislaus National Forest and Mendocino, California, July 22-August 2, 2006. After visiting Mendocino with his family, Haikutimes correspondant Jonathan Machen rendezvoused with haiku/backpacking companion Michael Conti to explore the Granite Dome area just north of Yosemite for a seven-day exploration of the Sierra Nevada high country. Photos and drawings by Jonathan except where noted.

rental mini van
slicing through fiery furnace
of central valley

feathers and ferns
shimmering in morning sun
stillness hard at work

108 degrees
inside mendocino home
vultures fly above

the quiet of a hot summer forest
the surf of a cool foggy beach
thirty degrees dividing
locations thirty minutes apart
bulb-ended, horse-whiped seaweed
flailing under foaming surf
young boy squirming in carrier
impervious to the novelty
of the ocean, needing a nap

high pressure zone
california in july
road grasses wither

than the most
vibrant neon sign
spongy green moss

bats focused on insects
mendocino vultures
focused on chicken

impervious to
the vagaries of high
mountain weather,
cinnamon-scented tree
with chasms of bark
endures season after season

stanislaus river
raging as we hike
quietly up the trail

Alpine glow reddens
A doe follows us
Helping the campsite appear amongst
Granite and majestic trees.

The air cools but the rock I sit on, retains
Her warmth, a reminder
Of that day's heat.

The roar of water took the top
Of our water container, but we will make due
And figure it out.
We are in the wilderness.
So what choice do we have? - Michael

leaving behind
constriction of retail stores
for expansive woods

around granite dome
summer pilgrimage

slowpoke evening feet
putting on a heavy backpack
deep green ice pool
vibrant lichen moss
emigrant wilderness

leaving behind - but not forgetting
culture, war, famine
hezbollah, militants,
iraqui/congolese civil war,
escaping the heat
of the central valley
at 7,000 feet

cannot escape
the subtle impacts
of a planet warming

quiet reservoir
under expansive skies
tear drop in valley

reservoir in woods
artificial bathtub
filled to concrete brim

pine cones
like footballs
strewn across the path

relief reservoir
offering no relief
to submerged valley

Photograph by Michael Conti

perched between
ocean and desert
sierra crest beckons

murky turquoise depths
reservoir concealing
granite valley floor

time to eat goo
i'm a hummingbird
needing my food
as i travel - laden
with pack heavy
with more goo

the range of light:
true to form
the mountains shimmer

fire blackens
core of a giant ponderosa
still standing strong

stream under snowfield
on granite shelf
we crawl inside
mosquitoes hover at the entrance
high sierra icebox
dripping continuously
water forging a path
through the center

under snow-ice bridge
tenacious green shoots of grass
capturing sun

large black ants
left-over food on spoon

hiker tells us
to have fun
reminding us
that for six days
no-one will
tell us what to do

being eaten alive
by mosquitoes in the high sierra,
listening to the water,
watching the alpine-glow gracing
surrounding peaks,
hiking with a heavy pack
on dusty trails peppered
with buzzing flies
and evidence of horses,
memory sparked with the thought
of burros that used to
carry our gear and eat
all the toilet paper:
a day in the mountains.

looking at skyline
through mosquito netting -
hazy yet romantic

high pressure zone
parked over state
when will it cool down?

spouting in an arc
water from deep under rock
discovered by birds

over chasm
he takes the plunge

liquid blue life-vein
surface marked with ribbons flowing
from lake to forest

fires in distance
patches of snow and high lakes
yosemite burns

mosquitoes at 10,000 feet
distant fire plumes

penstemon, flax and lupine
basaltic rock and granite
mix at summit

in rain gear and netting
on fine summer evening

vampires out at night
dusk brings them forth
to suck

yellow from cliffs
blue from the sky
a shimmering palette

touches every facet of granite
snow turns pink

end of the day
high sierra skyline
the last light comforts

yet buggy
this is reality

sketching iceland lake
on top of the granite dome:
my life is complete

on distant cliff
water at my feet

waiting in hiding
in picture-perfect green meadow:
swarm of skeeters

large tree fallen
timber split over granite
no witness

from what i can tell
there is no salt lick
at salt lick meadows

bleached white log in lake
lying in the reflection
of green trees above

shooting stars
in marshy galaxy
shining near the trail

multiple cascades
of water on pure granite
forest birds singing

forest fire distant
smoke fills the valley
thunderhead rises

bats flit
above tree silhouettes
crescent moon rises

saucer-shaped leaves
sporting purple teardrops
delicate sierra blossoms

from inside the tent
we can now fully relax
insect swarm thwarted

of mountain morning
before tourist plane

iridescent blue
feathers shimmer on the ground
detached but vibrant

the long history of
humans and the woods:
well-crafted trail

drawing by Michael Conti

dry, sappy pinecone
releasing it's seed
now trampled on trail

mackerel clouds above
lenticular in distance
wind on my shoulder

granite shoreline
beachcombers find only trout
nibbling surface

slapping at nothing
deeply conditioned
to mosquito presence

at every camp
large, black prowling ants
checking our debris

waves of gentle rain
washing smoky afternoon
into cool evening

two worlds mingle
white granite, red volcanic
pungent mint and sage

on every second step
a line of rock
marking the path
of the horses' gait

teachers come in many flavors.
witness the lowly mosquito,
breeding innocently
in high mountain marshes,
their season of growth
coming to fruition as winter snows melt
into picturesque pools,
relentlessly and continuously
attacking all warm-blooded creatures in their midst,
turning a sunset or sunrise
into an impressionistic painting
through the fog of netting,
turning the process of rolling up a tent
into a hand flailing, back-slapping
psychometric-wilderness dance.

what lies unnoticed
deeply noticed by some
morning senyru

catch any fish?
fathers and sons behind gaucho
on weekend horse trip

sitting in smoke
he enjoys mosquito fire
relief from bugs

green-streaked granite
smoothed from glaciers of old
far above camp

of mosquitoes
driving us mad

miles of granite
a bee on a flower
horse pees in the stream

sixth day on the trail
michael now proudly sporting
salt and pepper beard

photo of Jon Jumping by Michael Conti

every forest nuance
and myriad encounter
reflecting one source

highlights of his trip:
the absence of mosquitoes
combined with beauty

solid white ingots
of white granite
embedded in pink

a shear of rock
plunges down
into the snowfield

the more you sit
the more you notice
so the more you sit

my mind wanders
early morning light
filters through trees

conglomerate rock
ancient river sands and stones
welded together

oversized ant
crawling on top of sleeping bag
impervious to whack

mountains are
serene and demanding
lovely but not for
the faint of heart

granite soothes the soul
yet tears the sole.
snow brings contrast
to rocks and sky
yet feeds mosquito pools.
the sense of expansiveness
thrives in light and shadow
on either side of the valley,
yet turns to constriction
after an uncomfortable
night in the tent.
still, the sum effect
of such contrasts is
invigoration and
aesthetic refreshment,
perspective on one's life,
tuning into the true source
of nature; weather and the cycles
of the day, leaving behind
the human struggle
to make peace with others.

we backpack in vast spaces
as innocent people
die around the world,
nationalistic agendas
and the lack of space
divorcing those linked to a common region
from a peaceful destiny.

glacial deposit
granite in the midst
of volcanic shelf

solo/group kukai
jonathan machen