Walking with the Ghost of El Capitan

The other day I was hiking along the North Rim of Yosemite Valley when an apparition appeared. In prior revenant encounters, the elusive spirit always avoided contact, but this one was different indeed. As I stood on the summit of El Capitan on a rain soaked afternoon, I was approached by this shadowy figure. It was I who became dodgy, but all my best efforts were thwarted. My hurried hiking pace became a light jog then an all out sprint. My mortal efforts were no match for this persistent poltergeist. After nearly a quarter mile sprint, I stopped to see his outstretched hand offering a gesture of greeting. “Why do you run?” asked the Ghost of El Capitan.

Ghost of El CapitanThe Ghost of El Capitan

“Are you ashamed?”, he continued. I did not answer at first. My stunned silence quickly morphed into an ocean of words as we discussed many topics. He asked me “How could this happen?” and the silence returned. He aired his grievances. I tried to assure him that we will eventually learn valuable lessons from this grave mistake. He followed with “Will it be her?’ Again, I had no idea. He began to rattle off quote after quote from one of the most dangerously uninformed potential “future protectors” of his home.

I’m not a denier. I don’t doubt that climate change exists. No one has proven that these changes are caused by anything done by human beings via greenhouse gases. There’s no convincing scientific evidence for man-made climate change. The climate has always been changing. Climate change is to this century what eugenics was to the last century. It’s hysteria and a lot of it’s junk science. And when it’s as discredited as eugenics, you know a lot of people are going to look very foolish and heartless.

One of the markers that they use to measure the glacier that he was talking about, they started measuring … back in the early 1800s. And then they started showing from there how it shrunk. You know, it’s receded. Well, man’s footprint, the first Mukluk was not even near that glacier in the early 1800s when it started melting. That was before the Industrial Revolution. So, you know, these blames on man’s activity, some of that I know is bogus.

The chant is “drill, baby, drill.” That’s what we hear across this country in our rallies because people are hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into.

We continued our discussion while walking through some of the most pristine wilderness Yosemite National Park had to offer. He shared so much valuable information along with strategies to combat the ignorance behind what is sure to be the biggest fight to protect our national parks in the 21st Century. He was my guide. I was his student. This was the most horrifying of all the statements he shared:

I think a lot about the Department of Energy, because energy is my baby; oil and gas and minerals, those things that God has dumped on this part of the earth for mankind’s use instead of us relying on unfriendly foreign nations, for us to import their resources. … If I were head of that, I’d get rid of it. And I’d let the states start having more control over the lands that are within their boundaries and the people who are affected by the developments within their states. So, you know, if I were in charge of that, it would be a short-term job … it would be really great to have someone who knows energy and is pro-responsible development to be in charge.

“Reckless” was all I could utter. I mentioned this agenda has already been initiated in Utah. It’s sure to be the law now. “I know, word travels quickly in my realm” he responded. We are in for a pitched battle no matter who becomes the next custodian of the forests. I pledged to fight the good fight and will convince others to join me for this most worthy cause. Again, he was not surprised by my expressions of vigilance. He promised to have the ravens look after me and advised me to “look to them for guidance.” I turned to see one flying overhead. At that moment, the Ghost of El Capitan left me alone with my thoughts. I caught one last glimpse of him before he disappeared into a thicket of tall trees.

The Ghost of El Capitan

Ghost of El Capitan

I continued my journey as the rain subsided. The clouds gave way to sunshine so I decided to visit North Dome and was greeted by a friend.

Ghost of El Capitan

The Ghost of El Capitan had left me, but I strangely felt his presence nearby. It’s a feeling that has stayed with me since that day and one I don’t suspect will leave me any time soon.

Ghost of El Capitan

The day’s adventure was coming to  a close, but I had a sense that I had a much longer walk ahead of me. A walk I hope many will join. As I hiked down the Snow Creek Trail, this Tegan and Sara song was stuck in my head. “Out of my mind, out of my mind. I was walking with a ghost…”

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