Lenette and I visited Yosemite Valley nearly every year. Those trips were always very special for us. On most visits, we camped or lodged in Camp Curry, although we stayed at the Ahwahnee Hotel a couple of times. On many visits, we brought our own bikes and biked and walked the valley floor.
In the mid-50s, we began to backpack in the high country out of Tuolumne Meadows. These weeklong trips always included boys and girls from summer camp and were always memorable. We climbed mountains, crossed wild rivers, and camped next to clear-water lakes.
Besides food, we only carried a poncho, a sleeping bag, and a change of clothes. The heavy stuff was the food for the week. We got really good at preparing meals morning and night. Lunch was always trail mix and chocolate.
At least once, we hiked to Glacier Point and watched the rangers prepare and perform the magnificent and unforgettable “Fire Fall” above Camp Curry into the Valley. We were also fortunate to witness this event many times from the valley floor.
When we finished our hike, usually down into the valley, we all showered and enjoyed a restaurant meal in celebration of our trek.
One time, a camper at our celebration meal ordered a huge amount of food, enough for 3 people. I told him he would have to eat everything he ordered. He told me this was how he got his money’s worth from the trip. It took time, but he ate it all.
Among the other lessons he learned was that he could complete and achieve a difficult hike when he was willing to make the effort.
On one of our trips, it rained one night, and we all got good and wet. Lenette gathered up the shoes that were totally soaked and placed them near the fire that we kept going all night. When we went to get our shoes the next morning, they looked perfect and dry, but they crumbled into dust. Here we were with no shoes and a hike to make!
Lenette immediately asked for jeans, and using a sharp blade, she cut the denim and made sandals out of them. We used leather thongs to tie them on our feet, and we all had sandals to walk on.
We soon discovered that the sandals wore down quickly. Lenette’s answer? Make them thicker, which she did. It worked! We made it to the valley with lots more memories.
A poem is in me to write.
I think I have it in sight.
The words are there in my mind.
I know me, and I know they are there to find.
It is Lenette I know I want to write of.
It is Lenette I picture and the one I’ve always loved.
So beautiful a person was she.
She filled my life; she made me be.
And now alone, I feel she watches over me.
I have that sense of her being.
I have that sense of her seeing.
Of her watching what I do.
And knowing every word I write is true.