In August, 1998, a freak accident gave Ron’s life a new twist. Ron was riding his motorcycle on the main one-way loop in Yosemite Valley. Just as Bridalveil Falls was coming into view, Ron saw a car coming the wrong way. Ron tried to swerve, but it was too late. His left leg hit the car, and it was broken. Ron had never sustained a major rock climbing injury, but ironically, he now had a broken leg.
His leg in a cast, he spent some time recovering with his family and friends away from Yosemite, but as soon as he was able to get around on his own, he returned. One moonlit evening, Ron found himself at the Valley View pullout, looking at Bridalveil Falls and the silhouettes of the granite formations, all familiar to him in their intimate details from his climbing experiences. He was overcome by their beauty, and what they had done for him — struck by the kindness of nature, how it had saved him from his youthful predicament, and what his life as a climber in Yosemite had taught him. Tears welled from the emotions of gratitude and appreciation. A clarity of commitment emerged, how he could share the kindness of nature with others.
It struck Ron that the kindness was expressed in so many ways — the way in which the huge granite formations were formed so patiently over time, carved and polished in infinite variations, all of which he appreciated through his climbing; the annual cycle of snow, rain, and runoffs that supply the beautiful rivers and springs; the generosity of Fern Spring that graces the entrance into Yosemite Valley by providing a steady flow of the purest of water; the flora and fauna that thrive in this environment and respond to the annual cycles in majestic forms (giant sequoias and the bears) as well as the delicate (the wildflowers and the tiny frogs). The water that runs out of the tap in San Francisco is a precious symbol of this kindness, for without that, we might be drinking water created by the carbon-intensive evaporation of sea water in desalination plants littering the California coast. Ron, beginning as a young man downstream from the Hetch Hetchy, has figuratively swum upstream to the water source, and through his life as a climber, come into contact with the realities of nature.