Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

29 July 2014


Clark @ 8:03 AM

For many of the past 10 years, I’ve gone walkabout with some friends into the mountains to, well, many things.  It’s fun, it’s thoughtful, it’s invigorating, and it is also hard work.  I’ll paint a picture to contextualize the picture.High Sierra Lake

With two friends (one I’ve known for 30+ years), we drove up into the hills, spent the night in a tent cabin, and the next morning parked and started hiking. We followed the trail up to May Lake, which is already a gorgeous high Sierra lake just above timberline. From there, my two friends had got adventurous.

So, we went around the lake and took off cross country up the ridge.  This was up rock, as we were above timberline, and off trail so it was where we figured we could go.

At the top of the ridge, we had the view you see in the picture, and we headed down to the left to get to the lake. We camped in some stunted trees off to the right of the lake out of the picture.  We of course had to carry our tents, stoves, water filters, sleeping bags, clothing, everything with us.

And I learned a valuable lesson. I packed in a flurry of trying to get other things done, and missed just a couple of things I should’ve brought, checked, etc. I ended up ok, but forgetting the sleep pad led to some discomfort.  I could’ve been in worse shape, though my friends would’ve helped out if I didn’t have enough fuel.  If I’d used the checklist my colleague created, I’d have been better off!

We day hiked the next day.  You can see small plumes of smoke in the background, as there was a ‘management fire’ going on at the time. We got a blast for about 20 minutes or so, but it cleared up so I didn’t have to panic. Right before nightfall, we saw some hovering against the wall of the ridge to the left (1000′ above us, and we were at 9000’+), and I feared that it might settle down overnight.

Indeed, we woke up the last morning in smoke, and hiked back out only to find out that May Lake, Tenaya Lake, and as far as we could tell all of Tuolomne Meadows was covered.  The gorgeous views were tarnished, but we feared that the fires were not those that were being managed, and indeed so we subsequently discovered.  My thoughts to those who are suffering.  Fortunately, we got out safe and sound.

The conversation we shared veered from philosophical discussions, personal details, and of course ridiculous humorous dialogs.  There were also periods of no discussion, merely contemplating and enjoying nature.  There’s something restorative about being in the wild, with vistas, wildlife, and the sounds of wind and water.  You don’t have to get out there with the level of exertion and immersion we choose, but I believe there’s something primal and necessary in getting away from the daily hustle and bustle regularly.

So, how do you recharge?


  1. I’m headed into the “wilderness” in a few weeks for a week Clark and yes, it’s primal. An opportunity to reengage with nature and appreciate its simple beauty and amazing relationship with mankind. Thanks for building my anticipation!

    Comment by mark britz — 29 July 2014 @ 9:39 AM

  2. I totally understand being in nature as a way to recharge. I’m so glad I live in the Bay area now, where there are two very different types of mountains on either side of me. To recharge, I love to walk in the Redwoods up at Big Basin Redwoods State Park – being around 2000 year old trees is just awe inspiring. But it is also interesting to contrast that with a bike ride up Mount Hamilton – in the dry mountains to the east, with smaller trees but giant pinecones.

    Comment by Rebecca — 29 July 2014 @ 10:02 AM

  3. I recognise that lake. My sister and a couple friends and I once spent several hours getting up on top of that ridge.. and a much shorter amount of time coming down again sledding the spring snow on a rain jacket – feet tucked in the hood, holding on to the sleeves. Magnificent spot. Hope the fire doesn’t do too much damage.

    Comment by Rob Moser — 29 July 2014 @ 11:34 AM

  4. So agree Clark. For me recharging is done on the water, preferably in my sea kayak or my sailboat. I’ve just returned from 5 days paddling with whales in the Johnstone Strait, BC (west coast of Canada), which is a truly fantastic experience. Being on the water means you are attuned to what’s happening in the moment. Since we camped on the beach, it also means when off the water your focus is on the basics- food, shelter, etc. Being off the grid of course means you do the simple things in life: read actual books, play cards, talk and the like. I only missed my screens when I wanted to look something up about what we’d seen, such as: did we see two different kinds of porpoise? which whale did we paddle near today? how nomadic are seals anyway? Reminded me how wondrous our world is.

    Comment by Holly MacDonald — 3 August 2014 @ 7:14 AM

  5. Holly, I like *all* nature, having spent significant time in the mountains, desert, and in the ocean. So the mountains is something I share with my colleagues here in the Bay Area. I go surfing with my brother when in San Diego, and that’s another recharging. Been quite a few years since I’ve been to the desert, but that was a major component of my college years. Similarly only really missed screens when we had a debate about X, Y, or Z and wanted to look it up. Sounds like a great time!

    Comment by Clark — 3 August 2014 @ 10:34 AM

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