TO TRAIN FOR A PILGRIMAGE, GO TO LAKE TAHOE!
In a week, I'll be leaving for Spain, to follow the ancient pilgrimage route called the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago). It will be a 25 day, 400 mile walking spiritual experience. I'll be taking a lot of prayers and petitions with me to the Cathedral where the bones of the apostle St James are buried. How to get physically ready for the journey? Go to Lake Tahoe, of course!
My sister invited me to spend this week with her and my two nieces, Hillary and Amanda, on a timeshare opportunity she had in Lake Tahoe, California. Immediately after celebrating the Corpus Christi Mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea on Sunday, I found myself on an American Airlines plane bound for the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. We're staying at the Marriott Timber Lodge, and I spent all of today hiking with my family around this gorgeous lake, surrounded on all sides by snow-covered mountains.
The area around Lake Tahoe was inhabited by the Washo tribe of Native Americans. Lake Tahoe was the center and heart of Washoe Indian territory. The English name for Lake Tahoe derives from the Washo word "dá’aw," meaning "The Lake".
Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the U.S., with a maximum depth of 1,645 feet trailing only Oregon's Crater Lake at 1,949 ft. It is about 22 mi long and 12 mi wide. Lake Tahoe was shaped and landscaped by scouring glaciers during the Ice Ages, which began a million or more years ago.
It is astonishing, and its dimensions are so immense that it gives you the same sense of unreality that is experienced when you are in the Grand Canyon. The water is perfectly clear and is a combination of exquisite shades of blue and green. The mountains that surround the lake are enormous piles of bedrock, with millions of gigantic pines that have defied the odds and found a home to grow their roots in the cracks of that bedrock.
My nieces and my sister are courageous hiking explorers, and we spent most of the day under blue blue skies, crisp clear air and illuminating sunshine going up and down the mountainsides in search of powerful waterfalls and spectacular vistas from which to experience the awe of God's natural handiwork. It was a good workout for me--I need to keep myself in food hiking shape for the pilgrimage next week!