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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Entry 59: 1963 The Firefall at Yosemite

The evenings at Yosemite held a special magic.  The different colors that would show on the mountains throughout the valley as the sun began to set were so beautiful..  Every evening there was a program at Camp Curry.  Ellen, Bernie, and I left camp before everyone else.  We were going to meet up at the program but we wanted to go into the little shop at Camp Curry first.  We looked at the postcards, the figurines, and all the fun stuff to buy for souvenirs.  The only thing we bought was a little card of safety pins.  I paid for the pins and handed them to Bernie, over her shoulder from the back, and she slipped the little bag into her purse.  We kept looking around for a few minutes then we left.  
We were outside of the store, walking towards the center where we were to meet mom and dad to watch the program and the Firefalls when we noticed a man who had been in the store following us.  When we walked faster he walked faster.  There were people all around, we were not afraid of the man, we just wanted away from him.  He yelled for us to stop.  When we didn’t he began running towards us.  We stopped in the middle of a crowd of people and waited for him to catch up to us.  All the people near us stopped too.  They were curious, as were we, as to what this fellow was up to.
It turns out he thought we were had been shop-lifting.  He said he saw us sneak something out of the store.  He accused us of stealing!  We were all shocked and curious as to what this fellow thought he’d seen.  He continued to say he saw me hand something to Bernie who then hid it in her purse.  He asked if he could look in her purse.
We knew we hadn’t done anything wrong.  We were just thirteen though so he scared us.  We all looked at one another and Bernie told him to go ahead and look.  His face turned a beet red when he pulled out the tiny bag holding the safety pins and the receipt.  He apologized to us and told us he thought we had stolen them.  He could see he had scared us and began telling us of all the shoplifting that goes on in the little gift shop. 
He headed back to the store and we started again toward the activity center when we noticed mom and dad standing in the middle of the crowd.  They had seen the whole thing.  We ran to them.  We were all giggling and laughing and trying to tell them everything the man had said.  Dad was mad.  He said he was going into the store and give that fellow a “talking to” for accusing us.  
We all told dad we didn’t care about what the man had said.  We convinced him we just had time to buy some of the wonderful Sidewalk Sundae ice cream bars from the store and get a seat before the program began.  The seats were carved logs.  They weren't very comfortable but the program wasn't very long so it worked. 

The nightly program always ended the same way.  Someone would tell of a love that could not be between two Indians from different tribes.  The man supposedly lived with his tribe at the top of glacier point and the woman lived in the valley.  The fellow on stage would sing the “Indian Love Call.”  At the end of the song he would point to the top of Glacier point, tell the audience to be very quiet, and yell “Is the fire ready?”  I could never believe it but after a few seconds we would hear a reply from the top of the mountain, “The fire is ready.”  Then the fellow on the stage would yell again, “Let the fire fall.”

We’d all hold our breath, wait, and look up at the tip of the mountain.  In a few seconds a small red spot would appear.  Slowly it would grow into a long trail of red hot coals tumbling over the edge and down the face of the mountain making a “Firefall.”  Yosemite has many waterfalls.  They are beautiful and awe inspiring but there was something magical about that Firefall.  It lasted about a minute before it would begin to fade away.  It could be seen from anywhere in the whole valley.   
 One year dad drove us all up to the top of Glacier Point.  We each got a hot dog and a hot chocolate and walked the trail up to the point where the fellow pushed the embers over.  It was fun, we got to hear “the yell” and see the Firefall from the top instead of the bottom.  

The fellow had a huge pile of burning embers which he pushed over with a big flat snow shovel.  It was more exciting from the top of the mountain but it was definitely more beautiful from the foot of the mountain.  They stopped doing it many years ago.   I heard someone thought it was going to deface the mountain but it was so beautiful!  I wish I could see it again.  I wish my kids could see it.    



  1. amazing story,, you are a newbie blogger right?Have you ever heard of Debbiedoos blogging and blabbing, she has a newbie party every monday that links newbies and I wish you would join,, so many people could enjoy your stories, she's a wonderful person ,,

  2. laurie...how do I get to it? sounds interesting


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