National Geographic : 1985 Jan
and bears as the Great Smokies. Still, when you consider the superlatives of the park those proclaimed by poets and painters and photographers (including the late photogra pher laureate Ansel Adams), those by Presi dents (Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt among many), those by royalty (Queen Eliz abeth heading an impressive list), and those by ordinary citizens like me-Yosemite clearly emerges as the "Mona Lisa" of the wilderness. Making the pilgrimage to see her every year are some 2.6 million people, and nearly 15 percent of them come from foreign lands. The Japanese come in platoons consigned by tourist agencies. One morning I wit nessed a congregation of them singing in the high country, conducting, it seemed to me, a religious rite related to nature. They had gathered around a group of wind-twisted lit tle pine trees, trees rooted tenuously in cracks on a forbidding granite slope, trees stunted and crooked and straggly, yet this day touched with a strange new charm. Here was a moment of Far Eastern rever ence, set in a fragment of the American West reminiscent of a Japanese bonsai garden. As the old romantic of the Sierra, John Yosemite-Forever?