brown and bare-legged, up the trail, silver gravel crunches beneath our white shoes; Sierra sun slides down our backs. Floating Island Lake to the left, green and granite, gold light breaks and bounces into my eyes. narrow knife ridge leads us high, fewer pines, more rock. Cathedral Lake glistens over the edge, down, down. step breath step breath, higher higher, Fallen Leaf Lake, Tahoe, home of the WashoeŚ lakes beyond lakes, land beyond land. glacier smooth boulders, now no trail, just go for it. snow hangs on, snow melts off, we climb on all fours. pink flowers burst; their fire fills the cracks. hands hold, legs spring, and we're up on the last ridge below the summit. Tallac great Tallac, sharp peak shining near ten thousand feet into deep July blue, we stand in wild wind on its shoulders. out to the farthest highest ridge point, gray rounded boulder beneath my tiny white shoes, south and east and west roll out below. Tallac behind, Tahoe and the sisters beneath, my arms reach up breathing earth and sky. my cry goes out hay-ah-hay-ah-ho-o-o-o hear it float in silver air, fall through pines and light on lakes till the peak's silent shadow pushes the last splash of sun over the edge. as Tallac still lit, watches, we breathe the tip of time.
© 1996 Leslye Layne Russell