Close Window

Storm Over Dardanelles

Storm Over Dardanelles

Friends –

Xochitl and I did our first backpack in preparation for our week in Yosemite high country in July of last summer. Opportunities for practice were hard to come by, so when we had a common weekend, we took it. What did it matter that a summer storm ended up being the prediction for that weekend?
Our chosen destination was Dardanelles Lake in Meiss Lake Wilderness Area -- at 7700' elevation it was adequate for high Sierra training. But then there was that storm…. As we hiked we began to hear thunder booming in the distance. Trying to think positive, we monitored the closeness of the sound and the direction of the wind. Inconclusive. The thought arose that being on a Sierra summit during an electric storm, surrounded by tall Ponderosa Pines did not provide optimum safety. But, since it was the only chance for practice, we continued up.

As it turned out, luck was with us. We could see downpours in the distance, but very little of it fell on us. We were able to set up camp on dry ground at Dardanelles and stay that way during a bit of exploration. At first it seemed as though the storm would pass us by, but still, due to the warm temperatures and caution regarding lighting strikes, we slept outside the tent.

Sleeping under the stars was a good thing for many reasons. Although we did not have nearby lightning strikes, we were treated to soundless flashes of light from strikes that were occurring somewhere else in the Sierras. It was a beautiful light display, and soundless, even though the smell of ozone filled the air. Later we learned that people in nearby Meiss Lake were pelted with rain, and that areas in upper Yosemite suffered severe lightning strikes.

The next morning was beautiful and sunny. We decided that Dardanelles is an enticing lake, worth revisiting on a warmer weekend when we can spend more time and swim in the inviting water. Victoriously, we ate, packed up and headed back down the hill to the car with a hefty sense of accomplishment. Sometimes it is that little bit of danger that makes a wilderness experience that much more rewarding. And it certainly gives you 'something to talk about in the locker room'*.

'Storm Over Dardanelles' is a 14x18" soft pastel on textured hardboard, and is available for your donation to a worthwhile non-profit.

margie lopez read