October 28, 2017
Lower Cathedral Lake
Total distance walked: 8 miles
You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so… Get on your way! —Dr. Seuss
The year was 2011. It was a bittersweet day, both sad and exciting. Andrew and I had just finished a hike, our last together before he left for college. With good intentions and a heavy heart, this soon-to-be empty nester mom boldly asked him to promise, “…no matter where life takes you, you’ll always come home once a year to hike in Yosemite with me.” He agreed; but then, what else was a son to do?
It has been six years since that hike. Andrew finished college, embarked on a life of his own…and never forgot the promise. So far, we have hiked together at least once per year. This year was exceptional: four hikes together. Our last adventure of 2017 was to Lower Cathedral Lake in Yosemite’s high country.
It was going to be a busy day with a tight schedule. We departed early that crisp autumn morning in order to be back home in time to attend my sister’s birthday dinner. However, it was Sarah’s (Andrew’s college girlfriend) first time in the high country and there was so much to show her. We stopped briefly at Olmsted Point for the stunning view.
We pointed out Tenaya Lake, the largest lake in Yosemite.
A few minutes later we reached the west end of Tuolumne Meadows and were walking the trail to Cathedral Lake. It was cold. Shady portions of the trail were icy, but the strenuous uphill climb kept us warm.
The air was thin at 8,500 feet above sea level making the hike seem worse than it actually was. I panted my way up the mountain.
After two hours of hiking we reached Lower Cathedral Lake at lunchtime. The landscape exploded in beauty.
The sky, all one bright blue held a warm sun that saturated the scene. It shone down on polished granite and icy-cold water. Forest green pine trees stretched as high as the timberline. Above them stood Cathedral Peak, the amazing backdrop for the lake.
Andrew and Sarah relaxed while I went on a 20-minute walkabout exploring the area.
There wasn’t enough time to trek to the far end of the lake where you can look down on Tenaya Lake 1,100 feet below. I reconvened with Andrew and Sarah and we headed back to the trail.
I know that a life-time promise is impractical. It was a request from a mom who was sad to see her youngest child leave home.
I have four grown children. Each one of them leaving home caused a little heartache, but they returned frequently for visits. Now those visits often include hiking trips that have forged unforgettable memories in our minds.