Where the Fire Falls

Way back when I completed my freshman year of college I went and lived in Yosemite for the summer. I was a roomskeeper at the Wawona Hotel and worked with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks (ACMNP). While being a roomskeeper was not my favorite thing, hiking and exploring definitely were my favorite things. I worked Tuesday through Saturday and had Sunday and Monday off. My ministry partners and I would spend Sunday leading services in the campgrounds and Monday hiking various trails. Some of my favorites were Cathedral Lake, Clouds Rest, Mount Dana, and of course Half Dome. There is something about Yosemite. It digs into your soul and does not let go in the very best way possible.

Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett is set in Yosemite in the late 1920’s. Olivia, our protagonist, is hired to create watercolor scenes of Yosemite which is the last place in the world she wants to go. Something happened concerning a family member and Yosemite Falls. This story line in the book was the most frustrating for me. There was not really an explanation of what actually happened and when the family member reenters the picture there is no resolution.

Yosemite Falls 1994

Aside from that I really loved this book. There was love, intrigue, and beautiful scenery I could see in my head. One place that is described in the book is the Glacier Point Hotel. This hotel actually burned down but you can still find photos of it on the internet.

Half Dome from Glacier Point 1994

Where the Fire Falls includes the camp workers pushing burning flames off of the falls and the calling between Curry Village and the top of the falls. What a spectacle that must have been! You can still see this wonder at Horsetail Falls in February. Of course, last year people destroyed vegetation and left trash everywhere. You can see a video here of the Firefall.

In the valley there is a little chapel. Karen Barnett describes it in great detail and it is a lovely little church. Our group got together several times with the pastor and his wife. I remember her telling me specifically that there was something about the water in the park that would make your hair grow like crazy. Apparently, when they first moved to the valley her hair was short and had very tight curls. Her hair was still curly but had grown so much and was so healthy. Imagine a little chapel and the backdrop is Half Dome. The majesty of the park is staggering.

On the Diving Board on Half Dome 1994

I have read many popular books that use profanity as a plot device. Is was a nice change to read a sweet story, set in an incredible place, that also included some characters looking for God’s lead in their lives. I highly recommend this book and will definitely check out other books in her “Vintage National Park” series.

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