The environment may surround us, but when that environment is a natural wonder like Yosemite National Park, it also reaches what’s inside us. For Mark Liebenow, Yosemite did just that, and did so when he needed it most. In Mountains of Light, winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize, Liebenow takes us deep into the heart of this wilderness, introducing us to its grand and subtle marvels—and to the observations, reflections, and insights its scenery evokes. Acting as our guide, Liebenow calls on the spirit and legacy of naturalist John Muir to rediscover nature and recover his own exuberance for life. Whether celebrating the giant sequoias, massive granite mountains, and wild, untamed rivers, or losing himself on an unmarked trail, Liebenow is always accompanied by thoughts of his wife of eighteen years, whose recent and sudden death tempers and informs his journey.
Interwoven with his experiences are the stories of the Native Americans who lived in the valley for thousands of years and of the early settlers who followed. Melding documentary with introspection, environmental reportage with a search for meaning, Liebenow’s work draws on the lore of geology, botany, biology, and history to show how each aspect of the environment is connected to the rest.
Watch the Mountains of Light book trailer on YouTube.
About the Author
Mark Liebenow has won the Chautauqua Nonfiction Prize, among other awards. His work has been published in such journals as the Colorado Review, the Spoon River Poetry Review, and the Clackamas Literary Review.
Table of Contents
Entering the Wilderness 1
Slowing Down the Mountain 17
Hiking Over the Edge 32
Drawing Close to Sacred Land 39
The Great River 61
Where Earth Begins 79
Dissolving the Boundaries 95
Seventh Mountain 110
Breaking Open to Falling Leaves 126
Unmarked Trails 146
Embracing the Stone Season 166
Returning Home 181