Lembert Dome is a granite dome sticking out of the east end of Tuolumne Meadows In Yosemite National Park. Its summit lies about 800 feet above the meadow, and is at an elevation of 9,450 feet (2,880 meters).
I can remember attempting the climb of Lembert Dome with my dad when I was a kid. Memory fails me as to whether we made the summit or not. I seem to recall that the day was threatening to become stormy and that we backed down without reaching the top. If only we’d known there was a trail to the top!
Years later, I climbed to the summit a couple of times. Once with my friend Ron when we were hanging out climbing in Tuolumne Meadows one weekend in July 1999. This was to acclimate ourselves to the altitude for an attempt on Cathedral Peak the next morning. The other time was by myself a few years later. The view was always spectacular and well worth the effort of attaining the summit. A quote of mine sums up my view of sitting on a mountain summit (this one I came up with while sitting on top of Mount Conness, a few miles from Lembert Dome):
Eating Triscuits and deviled ham on a summit is the key to happiness in life.
That’s certainly proven itself not to be the ONLY key to happiness in life. But it is a good start. It’s hard to beat the scarce air and panoramic view from the top of a high peak.
Fast forward to March 20, 2008; when I met the most wonderful person ever to grace this earth. It took perhaps 5 minutes of conversation to realize that Joan was the one I’d been hoping to find. After ten months or so, I began looking for the right moment to ask her to marry me. I wanted it to be memorable, and in a place worthy of such a moment. I bypassed almost perfect places in New Zealand, Oregon, Colorado and bike rides all over California.
On July 18, 2009; I took part in the Trans Tahoe Relay swim. Afterward, we headed down south to Bishop for the night before heading into Yosemite for two nights. We checked out the tufa formations at Mono Lake and the volcanic crater nearby on the way down.
On the morning of July 19, we started off on what would turn out to be the best and most memorable day of my life. I got to visit many of my favorite places with the most wonderful person I can imagine.
We started of with a visit to the Black Sheep Coffee shop (behind Spellbinder Books in Bishop). This place has some of the best coffee I’ve ever had (I place it at #7 on my list of coffee shops, and #2 in California), and that morning was no exception.
We then headed down the street to Erik Schat’s Bakkery. And if you’ve ever been there, you know that it’s not to be missed if you’re in Bishop. Their cinnamon roll is just about the best I’ve ever had. There’s a place in El Paso that rivals Schats, but that’s about the only competition… To find Schat’s just follow almost any SUV heading through town with a Mammoth Mountain bumper sticker!
After getting gas and a brief stop at Rite Aid for some aloe vera lotion for Katie; we headed off to the hot springs. We were going to go to Hot Creek, but apparently that’s still closed due to seismic activity. Too bad, because that is just about the best swimming hole on the east side of the Sierra Nevada. We settled instead for Shephard’s hot tub (The Tub was overrun by range cattle and a Harley Davidson rider in his skivvies). It was certainly a marvelous place to sit for a while watching the clouds go by.
From there, we headed up to drive the Mammoth Scenic Loop and the June Lake Loop. We took in the view of the Minarets, the overlook of June Lake, Silver Lake and Grant Lake. The water of Silver Lake felt good on my calves!
After stopping in at the Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining for soda, coffee and bug spray; we headed off up Tioga Pass and into Yosemite. We parked at the lot at the base of Lembert Dome and went for a “stroll through the meadows”. Well, it turned into a bit more than a stroll. But it was completely worthwhile. We headed up to Dog Lake. It doesn’t sound like much, but Dog Lake is a beautiful place with a great view. Absolutely worth the hike, even if the last .1 miles is more like .4 miles!
From Dog Lake, we headed over the east shoulder of Lembert Dome. And once we got onto that ridgeline; we hiked up towards the summit. The last little bit of the summit looks a bit daunting from this angle, but is much easier of a hike than it looks. Hint: stay left until you get around the steeper part facing east!
Once on the top, you are confronted by an awesome view. 360 degrees worth of the Sierra Crest, Tuolumne Meadows, the nearby granitic domes, and many other lovely peaks of the high Sierra. I sat down to take it all in. And I laid back to “soak up some courage” as Joan put it…
After that, I got Joan to sit down with me so that we could take in the view and bask in each other’s presence. It was such an amazing moment. This was the first time where I had actually been struck by the thought, “This is the happiest moment of my life.” I knew what I had to do. It just took a few more minutes of my heart pounding in my chest.
After that small eternity, I worked up the courage. I got closer to ask “Will you marry me?” The answer came, “Yes.” After a brief kiss, we sat there for a few minutes. Tears of joy were welling up in my eyes. And before we got up, I asked Katie to take a picture.
A few minutes later, we told her what she had taken a picture of, and then we headed down from the happiest place on earth…
After that, the rest of the day was a happy and relieved bit of celebration. We finished off the hike and then headed down the road. We stopped along the Meadow so we could take pictures of Lembert Dome. It seemed to be basking in the evening sunshine.
From there, we headed down to Tenaya Lake where I took a brief dip in the water. Fortunately, it was nowhere near as cold as it had been the last time I jumped in! It felt refreshing after the tough little hike we’d done.
After the dip in Tenaya Lake we headed off into the Valley. After a brief stop at Olmstead Point to take in that view of course! The perfect day…
Here’s a picture of Katie crushing Half Dome…
And the picture of Joan and me at Olmstead Point…