A couple of weeks ago, my family and I decided to go on a hike in the Lake Tahoe area. This particular Sunday was a bright, crisp day; the kind of Northern Nevada summer day we’ve grown accustomed to over the years. Spectacular sunshine, relatively few clouds, and a slight breeze – just enough to keep the temperature bearable. We settled on heading for a destination we had not previously been to – Cascade Falls.
We hiked the trail leading up to this pristine wilderness area high above Cascade Lake and Lake Tahoe. The day was warm, but not overly so. The trail itself was well laid out – rocky and narrow in some areas, and in others wide and smooth. Overall, it was a relatively moderate hike – certainly easy enough for all in our party to hike without too much effort or becoming overheated.
Along the way, there were the obligatory stops. We would occasionally climb atop some of the huge boulders along the trail to gain a higher perspective of the two lakes and the wilderness below. We took photos of the views and of each other. And of course, Trevor just had to throw a few rocks as he peered over some of the cliffs and sheer drops along the trail. Hey, every 8-year-old boy in his right mind is going to want to do that! And maybe even a 48-year-old boy, too! Naturally, his mother and I always kept vigilant watch over him, ensuring he maintain a minimum safe distance from the edge.
As we hiked the trail further, we could discern the distant sound of running water. Gradually, as we neared our destination, the sound became a roar. And what we came upon when we crossed the last ridge of the trail was more than we had prepared for. Here was a spectacular waterfall, in its full glory, dropping hundreds of feet to the rocks below before making its way to its final destination – Cascade Lake.
“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
The runoff from the melting Sierra snows had created one of the most spectacular sights in the Lake Tahoe region, and this incredible waterfall was there for us to enjoy and treasure. We spent time hiking along the stream that led to the falls, and explored the surrounding terrain of granite cliffs and mesas.
We looked at each other as if to ask, “How can it be that we’ve lived in this area for so long and never been to this place before?” At least we were here now. I have always been one to appreciate the incredible area we live in. The Sierras and the Tahoe region offer so much not only in terms of outdoor activities, but in terms of sheer beauty – well, I would challenge anyone to show me a more majestic and beautiful place on this planet. There may be equals, but I would be surprised if anything could surpass this.
After about an hour of taking in this magnificent sight, snapping what seemed to be hundreds of photos, and splashing our feet in the cool waters that flowed past, it was time to head back down the trail. When we finally reached the bottom, and got to our car, we quietly, almost reverently it would seem, took a few moments to reflect on what we had just witnessed.
Then as we started the drive toward home, I glanced one last time toward Cascade Lake out the window on the right side of the vehicle. Then, almost as if it had appeared magically, as I gazed out to the far edges of the shore and looked up – there it was. Cascade Falls. In all the years I have been going to Lake Tahoe, driving around toward Emerald Bay, past Cascade Lake, I had never before noticed the incredible sight in the distance of the falls that feed this mountain wonder! How could I have been so blind to this amazing sight all those years? And, it begs the question, “Where else in my life am I not seeing what’s right in front of me?”
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