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A Summer in the High Sierra

a book

by Laurence Brauer

The Silver Divide shimmers in the gold of the day's final light, reflected in the still waters of Cotton Lake. The boulders, alpine grass, and flowers glow as if illuminated from within. My senses feel truly alive with an awareness of both the sublime simplicity and infinite complexity of this wondrous land. It speaks to me, not in words but feelings. And something deeper than mere feelings, something that binds me to life itself.
     I have been thinking and acting in the old ways. It is time to discover new ways.


The Industrial and Technological revolutions transformed human beings' relationship to the natural world, isolating people in a world of our own making while rapidly altering our planet's delicate ecology in ways that we cannot yet comprehend. From the daily extinction of species to the results of climate change, we already possess overwhelming evidence of the disastrous effects of human pollution. Yet humanity's fundamental beliefs regarding nature remain essentially the same as when they were first codified over 2,000 years ago. Able to observe everything from a single atom to galaxies millions of light years away, we still view humanity's place in existence from the perspective of our ancestors.

Perhaps if modern Homo sapiens reconnect to the natural world, we can discover new ways of seeing ourselves in relation to the rest of existence. For John Muir, "The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."

In A Summer in the High Sierra, I journey in the wilderness that inspired Muir to see and hear the lessons nature teaches us each and every day, lessons humans may be forgetting how to listen to. A journal of a 38-day solo round trip of the timberline country from Yosemite to Kings Canyon, along with an Epilogue of a 10 day trip one year later, A Summer in the High Sierra is an evocative exploration of wilderness and the human condition.

Traveling outside cultural and religious doctrines, I examine the assumptions of human societies and find that neither the rational deconstructions of science nor the leap of faith of religion contain the breadth and depth of nature's message. Seeing beyond our dualistic doctrines, I redefine our concepts of human nature and spirituality. In the solitude of the Sierra wilderness, I rediscover our primeval bonds with the continuum of life, reconnecting our place in life's infinite cycle to modern society, merging past and present into a new future.


I see both how fleeting and precious life is and how the life cycle continues through the ages. I witness the immediacy of a moment and the infinity of eternity. The immediate present and primeval past reveal the secrets of the ages in the here-and-now.