Step Into Pictures – Yosemite High Sierra Camp Trail

September 19, 2013

. . . A New Perspective on Relationships
Number 12

Discover the spectacular scenery and have an adventure when riding mules in Yosemite National Park with a friend.


Ladder leading to pictureThis post is part of the “Step Into Pictures” series that offers you a new way to explore both difficult relationships and those you treasure. Visit the Step Into Pictures Archive to learn more about it.


Click on picture to see enlarged view
On the trail between Yosemite’s Glen Aulin and May Lake Sierra Camps
On the trail between Yosemite’s Glen Aulin
and May Lake Sierra Camps

Step into this picture now, or continue reading to learn more about it . . .

NOTE: If you’ve been following the step-into-picture posts, you may notice that this is the first one in which I suggest you tell someone — a good  friend or one with whom  you have had problems — that you would like them to join you in the scene.  I suspect this will make it a different experience than simply imagining that they are having a conversation with you in the picture.

The first photo in the step-into-pictures series, on February 7, 2013, was taken at Merced Lake, during a Yosemite High Sierra Camp mule ride my husband and I took in 2004. We had frequently backpacked in the Sierra, but this is the first time we road. This made it possible for us to stay at five different camps, Glen Aulin, May Lake, Sunrise, Merced Lake, and Vogelsang, without needing to bring along a heavy pack.

All the camps are spaced about 5½ to 10 miles apart along a loop trail that takes you through some of the most beautiful and scenic regions of the park. Overnight accommodations at High Sierra Camps include a full dinner and breakfast, served up family-style in cozy dining tents. We slept in cabins while people camping in nearby backpacker campgrounds could also share in these hearty meals.

Are You Ready to Manage a Mule?

There is no doubt that the scenery is spectacular, but whether you decide to tell another person that you would enjoy being with him or her in this scene, or even imagine that person is with you, let me tell you a little about this particular picture.

In a post on November 8, 2012, Unscrambling Your Brain on a Mountain Trail, I wrote about Yosemite’s up-and-down trails that were steeper than we’d expected. In fact, the woman who rode in front of me was from South Carolina and an experienced horsewomen. She had been down the Grand Canyon on mule and said this was the steepest trail she’s been on.

Of course, mules, being what they are, were far more sure-footed than the horses ridden by the husband and wife wranglers who lead us through the wilderness. But it took a lot of energy to stay upright and keep my mule from browsing along the way.

Since a mule has more muscles in his neck that I have in my whole body on a good day, pulling his head up once he started eating was impossible. The trick was to jerk the reigns just before he put his head down. But we also were told to give our mules lots of reign while going up or down because that made it easier for the mule to keep his balance. It also allowed the mule’s head to be closer to the ground, which was closer to grass. With little distance to move toward it since the reign was slack, he did more grazing than he would have with a better horsewoman. Mulewoman?

My mule, Bruno, didn’t give a fig if he brushed past a tree and scrapped my knee or even took off my kneecap. Just another tourist. Just another load to bear.

My inability to get Bruno to pay attention to my wishes taught me all the humility I need right now.

Before Setting Off, Take a Virtual Ride

Was the scenery great? Absolutely.

Was it an adventure? You bet your life.

Would we do it again? Not on your life; at least not until they invent a guaranteed anti-aging technique. Such trips are for much younger people, or at least older folks in better shape than we are. So if you are fit enough, consider taking a real, live mule trip in a spectacular national  park.

Otherwise, you can imagine that the scenery was great and you were having an adventure — without needing to manage a mule.

Step Into Pictures — High Sierra Lake

February 7, 2013

. . . A New Perspective on Relationships
Number 1

Use your imagination and this picture of a lake in the high Sierras to gain a new perspective.


Ladder leading to pictureThis post is part of the “Step Into Pictures” series that offers you a new way to explore both difficult relationships and those you treasure. Visit the Step Into Pictures Archive to learn more about it.


Click picture to enlarge.
Sierra Lake
Brisk Morning at Vogelsang High Mountain Camp

Step into this picture now, or continue reading to learn more about it . . .

In 2008, I had several posts that were part of what I called the “Step Into Pictures” series. I have always wanted to add new pictures on a regular basis.

Let me tell you a little about this technique. It encourages you to imagine you can enter into a picture, invite another person to join you, and experience the other person in a new way. In this way you can experience a good relationship in a new setting.

Imagine a friend you haven’t seen for awhile and “invite” him or her to meet you in the picture. I can almost guarantee that you will enrich your life as you once more “connect” with that person in a new place, perhaps somewhere you have always wanted to visit.

On the other hand, if you have a relationship that is strained or broken, you can use this technique to release some of the pain by moving into a new setting, and possibly find a new solution you hadn’t considered before. I speak from experience, for I stumbled upon this technique many years ago on a day when I was suffering great emotional pain, as I describe in my book Letting Go of Our Adult Children: When What We Do is Never Enough.


I want to share with you how I discovered a way to release my lost expectations and hope when I was in the midst of great pain over the situation with our son. I believe my experience illustrates what can happen when we are open to healing.

When Matthew was forced to move out of our house for the last time, we knew that letting him go was the most loving action we could take. Yet it was extremely painful to force a child to leave knowing he was poorly prepared to face the trials ahead of him. That night I was unable to sleep and went into my husband’s study hoping to find some measure of comfort.

To understand what happened, you need to know that during that time of my life, and even sometimes now, I found it helpful to talk out loud when I was trying to sort through a problem. Because I am fairly verbal, hearing the words could give me insights I might not have discovered if I processed my thoughts internally.

On the door of the study was a poster of a gentle stream high in the Sierras far above the timberline. I happened to be looking at the picture as I said out loud, with great sobs, “If there is a God, please grant me the peace I so desperately want. I have done everything I can, and yet my grief seems more than I can bear.”

Almost immediately I felt calmer and in a quiet, soothing voice I said, “You are seated on a stone next to the stream. Lying at your side is an invisible rope which you have just let go of. The rope is of infinite length and has been used by you and Matthew to manipulate one another. The other end of it is still being held by Matthew , who has started down the mountain and is out of view. Your letting go of the rope indicates you are willing to trust your son to find his own path, just as you are learning to find your own.” Then I added, “Bob is standing next to the stream and he has also dropped his end of a rope that has connected him with Matthew . Your son will find his own path because you have both been willing to let him go.”

Where did that healing wisdom come from? It does not matter whether God really spoke through me or whether the words I said were simply my own inner wisdom expressing itself in a metaphor I could understand. What matters is that I experienced a sense of peace I could not have imagined possible earlier that day.

There is a footnote to this story. Thanksgiving came two months later and for many reasons we chose not to invite our son for dinner. His absence created a hole in the fabric of our family and reminded me of the deep pain I had felt earlier. As I wondered how I could get through the day without being constantly reminded of the fact that David was spending Thanksgiving alone, I decided to go into the study and look again at the picture of the mountain stream. Immediately I felt comforted as the peace I had experienced earlier returned to soothe my heart.

Easy Steps to Discovering a New Perspective on a Relationship My experience that day became the basis for the Step Into Pictures technique I developed over the years. Incidentally, the Sierra Club poster I used back then is copyrighted, so I can’t share it; but this picture, taken in 2004 on our mule ride in the High Sierras, is very similar.

Here is a technique for “stepping into pictures” when you have a friend or family member with whom you would like to share an experience or remember being with that person in real life:

❖ Think about someone you would like to have with you when you “step into” this picture.

❖ Spend several minutes imagining you are together in the picture, enjoying all the sights and sounds of being in this place.

❖ When you are ready to leave, plan to remember this experience in the days ahead; and come back here as often as you would like.

Here is a technique for stepping into pictures when the connection between you and another person is strained or broken:

❖ Think about a situation you want resolved between you and another person.

❖ Imagine you step into the picture, with or without that person.

❖ Open your heart to finding an answer or perspective you may not have thought of before.

❖ Imagine you have a conversation in which both of you respect the other person and are willing to stretch a little past your previous positions.

❖ What do you think might happen if you bring that attitude back out of the picture in your regular life?

Share Your Healing and Experience If you discover something when you do your own stepping-into-pictures technique, I would love to hear from you. You may be helping someone heal his or her heart.