I struggled up the user-created trail. Gaining 1500 feet in about a mile, it was more for efficiency than comfort. The Eagle Cap Wilderness was in the grip of an unprecedented heat wave: at nearly 8000 feet, the temperature had to be ninety degrees. I had worked my way into a major bonk, reduced to counting out 100 steps and stopping to breathe. Perhaps it was the steady 11 mile incline, perhaps the heat, perhaps not enough food, maybe a combination of all three. Finally I staggered upon Razz Lake, a lovely and high place not frequented by the many hikers who come into the Lakes Basin.
|Razz Lake and swimming launch pad|
This lake is just about perfect. It has all the elements: soaring mountain views, no crowds, and best of all, large rock slabs on which to sun and swim off. I wasn't even bothered when two backpackers tromped by me to set up camp. They were quiet and far away.
Sitting on my rock, I wondered what they thought. On my hike up, I had encountered several solo hikers. All men. What's up with that, single ladies? I still feel like an anomaly out here. Last month while I waited to board the North Manitou ferry, I heard a know it all loudly discussing his trip with two captive backpackers. "I saw a woman hiking alone," I heard him say. "She said she was with her son but maybe she was just saying that. I asked her if this was her Wild moment." (I saw that woman; she was with her son).
Even though I kind of like the book Wild, once I got past realizing it isn't a "hiking" book, and I think Cheryl was pretty brave to hike the trail in 1995, before all the things that make it softer today, I really don't like the idea that if a woman is hiking alone, she must either a) have read Wild and been inspired by it: 2) has something to prove and/or figure out; or 3) is any different than a man hiking solo. Do not ask anyone if this is their Wild moment. Just. don't.
Anyway, I had plentiful solo hours to wander up to the next tiny lake, read a book, swim, and enjoy the solitude. Did I mention this was the Fourth of July? The thought of sitting in a crowd watching fireworks filled me with horror. The mountains are pretty enough without fireworks. Can we just stop with the fireworks? I know, GASP. I realize people are into the fireworks, the barbecues, the music. I'm just not. I feel like we've gotten away from what independence means. To me, it isn't a party. It's the ultimate independence--the wilderness, which no other country has in the same way. It's being able to hike solo without fear.
|Little unnamed lake above Razz Lake|
|Early sun on Eagle Cap Peak.|