When Words Can’t Replace a Visual

My family makes fun of my sense of direction. Truth is I’ve always mixed right and left. Yes, I make mistakes when I give directions or follow them.

But my family is wrong in the sense that I still have a sense of direction. I just don’t trust north, south, west, and east as much as my photographic memory.

I never forget a place where I have been once. A leafy boulevard, a narrow alley tucked between brick buildings, a town square with an old carousel, and, of course, a library will be forever etched in my mind and I will find them again as long as I’ve seen them once.

In the same way, I don’t remember names or phone numbers but I never forget a face I saw once.

My memory is very visual and I trust it very much.

My eyes are my GPS and my memory.

And they could be the reason why I don’t use cameras and don’t take pictures.

At a time where Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and their siblings are all the rage, I’m an oddity.

Don’t get me wrong: I love photographs as much as I love artwork.

I admire the work of many photographers through exhibits in galleries or on their blogs and websites, and I envy the fact that they can convey through a single shot so much emotions while a writer needs so many words to get to the same result.

I admit – with a sigh -that sometimes words just can’t replace a visual.

When the situation arises, I trust a few people to get their cameras, iPhones, iPods, and iPads ready.

I met my hiking friend in tragic circumstances. An elderly driver killed her husband. In the course of an hour she was a widow. Clueless, I asked a common friend how I could help.

“Hike with her,” she said. “That’s her favorite hobby. And you do like hikes, too.”

That’s how our walks/hikes routine started.

Unlike me my friend doesn’t write but she takes pictures.

Yesterday she and I and two teen boys hiked to Cathedral Lakes, two jewels, nestled off Tioga Road in the heart of Yosemite National Park’s High Country.

The 8 miles round-trip trail starts at 8 500 feet. The Lower Lake is situated at 9 290 feet and the Upper Lake at 9 600. The two lakes are 0.5 miles apart, but you have to retrieve your steps from the Lower Lake to reach its sibling, so you add an extra mile in the mix. The first mile is uphill but the majority of the trail is moderate. We met snow as we climbed. There is something unique when sun and snow meet. Because snow was melting the ground was marshy. We crossed countless seasonal streams and small falls. The access to the Lower Lake was as challenging as plowing through a first draft. As exciting and emotionally charged, too.

In memory of our first hike together, I asked my friend for her permission to post her shots. My son agreed to be there, too.

Sometimes – oui, oui, it happens – I’m speechless and let the visual do all the work.SAM_1393 - CopySAM_1404SAM_1416SAM_1407SAM_1413(1)SAM_1421SAM_1422SAM_1431

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