It was a hot, hot day hiking in, so of course we got in the lake as soon as we dropped our packs. We were both expecting freezing water, because the two little creeks we had waded through on the way up were frigid. But the water was warm! Warm enough at least to stay in and swim for quite a while. We brought our Tenkara fishing rods and did some casting around our campsite, but it seemed like there were only small fish near us. It was shallow water, so the bigger fish were probably hanging out elsewhere.
Dinner on our first night was my favorite True Primal Soup - Savory Wedding - and some plantain chips. We also brought Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and spent several hours reading her essays as the light grew dim. I had already read it a few years ago, but it is amazing how a book can speak to you so differently depending on your focus in life at the time. I fell in love with it all over again and I highly recommend it to everyone.
The next day we tried hiking an established trail to the top of the mountain overlooking the lake. "Established" definitely never means maintained, which was the case with this trail. The first mile or so was fine, but then we encountered a few downed lodgepole pines. And then a few more. And more...until the trail was just a series of hurdles. Which was actually very fun. Even though we both practice moving through obstacles and natural environments a lot, it was cool to see how, after even just a few hours of picking and choosing how to step over the logs, we became noticeably much quicker, more graceful, and more fluid with it. I'm always amazed what mindful practice can help you achieve in such a short time.
On the hike we saw lots of interesting things, as usual when you start to look. One was a very large Jeffrey Pine...we think. It is apparently very hard to tell the difference from Ponderosa. They used to be considered the same species, and they occasionally hybridize. This one definitely smelled of vanilla or butterscotch, which some people say only Jeffreys smell this way, but others say Ponderosas will also smell this way. I learned after the trip that you can tell by their cones - "Prickly Ponderosa" has barbs on the cones that point outward and will poke you when you pick them up. "Gentle Jeffrey" has barbs on the cones that point inwards and are therefore less prickly. Here's an article with more information as well as pictures of the cones if you're interested! But the interesting thing about this giant Jeffrey was that it was the ONLY Jeffrey pine we saw anywhere on the entire hike. All the other trees were lodgepole pine or noble fir! We couldn't figure out why it was the only one, and why there weren't young ones anywhere.
Another fascinating wonder of the natural world we came across was a standing stump that was being excavated by carpenter ants. We crouched down and watched as they shuttled piece after piece of wood out of the center via holes in the side of the trunk, then turned around to go back for more.
On our way back down the hill, we began to hear some interesting animal noises. Kind of a whining noise, and not something I could place right away. Then I caught a glimpse of the animal making the noise and it looked like a horse, then a cow. Which didn't seem right because this was wilderness area, not range land. I told Max, and he said, "Are you sure it's not elk?" Of course! That's exactly what they were. We weren't very far away from them, but because the forest was so dense we could only see a few at a time. They must have caught our scent because they started stampeding, sounding like a freight train in the forest, and we watched through a gap in the trees as cows, calves, and spikes charged past, one by one, maybe 50 of them or more.
When we got back to camp, we got our fishing rods and walked half way around the lake to where we'd seen two osprey fishing the day before. Within about ten minutes, we'd each caught a fish big enough to keep for dinner. The osprey always know the best spots.
We brought them back to camp and used some left over veggies from lunch, a wild onion we found near our campsite, some butter, and olive oil (yes, we had both) to cook a fish stew. I had forgotten the salt in the car, so it was sadly a little bland, but it was amazing to make this meal from fish we caught just 15 minutes ago.
I feel so grateful for the fish, for the lake, for the mountain, the osprey, the elk. It's trips like these that heal a deep part of my heart.
- 2 Morning Glory Muffins & 1 pepperoni meat stick each
- Salami Bowls - salami, cheese, red pepper, carrot, apple, avocado, w/ olive oil & mustard
- Romano beans from the farmers market
- Trail mix
- True Primal Savory Wedding Soup (1 pouch each) & plantain chips
- Fish Stew - fresh-caught trout, wild onion, red pepper, carrot, Romano beans, steamed in water with olive oil & butter; a bag of plantain chips