In the Sierra, older rocks show signs of being metamorphosed two or three times. Magma that solidifies beneath the surface forms plutonic rock, and a body of this rock is called a pluton. In Sierra Nevada lands, most of this rock is light-gray granitic rock.
—-Yosemite National Park: A Complete Hiker’s Guide, by Jeffrey P. Schaefer
The great granite domes, peaks, cliff faces, crags and points jutting above us on the north and south sides of the canyon of the Tuolumne River, scored and cracked with folds and jointed lines, streaked black with weeping oxides, lightened and hued by gray and lime green lichen, stained with black lichen. Every crack and crevice holding or providing footholds for more life, mosses or tufts of grass, sand and sediments collecting there for Jeffrey pines, lodgepole, white pines and Douglas fir. Some die smaller than your hand, tiny dead trees or plants stuck remnant still in the crack of the rock, tufted by grasses, sprouting small beady succulents like scattered necklaces with small five pointed yellow flowers like perfect stars with a red stigma like a corona inside vibrating in a stiff wind, or a blooming penstemon—small delicate pinkish magenta fluted trumpets blooming from the tiny shrub with gnarled roots gripping granite—as ants, black and large or black and small, scurry over the whole face of the rock, the bare sun-warmed slabs all day, where the black fence lizard with the blue belly suns himself, the black stink bug determinedly goes east, a gray spider with the black cross on abdomen I only noticed as he moved when I pissed on him, the vast granite mountains live and crawl with lichen, insects and little plants of all kinds, every wind-scoured, sun-blasted and winterized feature, immense or microscopic, folds in half-hidden life—Stellar jays flying from tree to tree, the male and female woodpecker following each other around the base of a tree, the hummingbird which flew up to check on us daily, the cloud of gnats spinning around each other in and out of sunshine and shadow, mosquitoes hovering sometimes at your face, a mayfly that rested, clutching her knee—there’s nothing, not the wind, the sunlight or the great rock faces of all the mountains that is not moving and alive, but something in my spirit and one of my eyes is dirty and tired and cannot feel any of it really—something in one eye looks on it all shining in the glaring sunlight on the Tuolumne River as if from that tiny jet plane flying south, silent over the far canyon ridge—and cannot feel any real connection to all the summer life—motes, dust and pollen streaming on the breeze, another summer has come and I want it—California Falls roaring and the breeze kicked up by the waterfall into a cold pool causes a couple strands of spiderweb to scintillate on the air.