Friday, February 19, 2010

Cathedral Peak/ August 2009

The last few nights I've been watching parts of "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" by Ken Burns on PBS video.
At one point during the chapter I was watching this evening, there was a particular quote by Dayton Duncan, the writer and producer of the documentary that immediately brought back a memory: "You are the owner of some of the best seafront property this nation's got. You own the magnificent waterfalls, you own stunning views of mountains, and stunning views of canyons, and stunning views of gorgeous canyons. They belong to you, they're yours, and all that's asked of you is to put it in your will for your children, so they can have it too."

Last summer on the John Muir Trail, I crossed paths with another hiker named Matt who was also hiking the trail solo. We hiked together for a couple of days and one of the places we camped for the evening was Cathedral Lake. The euphoria of leaving behind the city life and excitement of a new adventure in an absolutely stunning place was at it's peak for me. The grit and grime of long distance backpacking had not yet set in when we camped below Cathedral Peak that particular afternoon in August. Everything was still fresh and new. After hiking most of the day, we were treated not only with an incredible view, but with a refreshing and comfortable swim in Cathedral Lake. At one point, I turned to Matt and said "We win!" Even though both of our lives in the "real world" hardly measured up to what society deems "successful," in that particular moment, we felt like the richest people on the planet, and it cost us nothing. It became our mantra for the evening: "We win!" Cathedral Peak is still one of my favorite memories of the JMT.


  1. Just be careful. Sometimes nature wins. I think we tied that one day in Colorado.

  2. Mark, I love your writing and your telling of tales I can totally relate to. My oldest son once said, "this is how I'm not normal, because if I were normal there would be other people here." We were camped at French Lake, one of my favorite places in the Sierra/World, and it had just stopped raining/hailing. We hadn't seen a person in many, many days are were just starting to boil water for our evening soup. It was really cold, wet, and smelled divine. The remaining clouds were outlined in pink and orange, and the alpine glow that night was outstanding. It was, for me, one of those moment where the work and the love of the Sierra came together and it was crystal clear why "normal" would never come. And, I'm glad of that!

  3. Thanks Robin I'm going to have to remember that. What a great line!

    Michael, that hike in Colorado is always on my mind, every hike since then has been influenced by it.