There are places you visit in your lifetime that leave mark on your heart. A time and a place that cannot be erased. Cannot be denied. It's at the center of these places that we often discover again where we've been, who we are, and what we want to be.
My first rock climb, meadow crossing, hot springs, and impression of the glowing Cassiopeia in the sky. Tuolumne has meant so many things to me for so many years. And the gifts continue.
I retrace the steps I took five years ago on the Glen Aulin trail with a two-year-old girl on my back and memories of my dog, Mo, tucked away in my heart. Together, we search for just the right spot to mark her remembrance. The late August afternoon brings sweat upon my back, achy legs, and an anticipation of letting go of someone so interwoven in my life.
As we cross glacial mountains, pure mountain emerald streams, and shaded deer paths, the perfect place opened up to us. We named it Mo rock. Over the small falls, we released our memories of her: our countless treks to the Sierras, the rocks and trees she climbed alongside me. Mo wasn't just my first dog, but my best friend. In her honor, we splashed in the water, tossed sticks, and ate lunch along the bank. Her perfect day.
And now, five years later, I find myself right back there with her. Everywhere I looked, I feel pieces of my dog, my compadre, hidden under rocks, in whistling pine needles, and running through the veins of every tree. With each step along that trail, my goals in life become more clear. It's not to leave a grand legacy behind me, but to leave tiny pieces of myself in many places. Bits and remnants of where I've been, who I am, and what I want to be all over the world.
Just like Mo. Over five years later, she's still teaching me.
So once again, I share the trail with friends. Awed by the beauty. Peacefulness. Power.
Welcoming in all the pieces of Tuolumne Meadows that add up to perfection.