Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Hunting for Lake Elusive

 It was another day of terrible air quality. I lurched around the house with a headache; without air conditioning and the inability to have windows open, the air inside wasn't much better. My state was burning. I had to escape. 

Clearing a few hours on my work calendar, I headed to the mountains (the trailhead is only six miles away, so I wasn't becoming part of the problem). My goal was to find the elusive Unit Lake, one of the few named lakes remaining on my list. 

The smoke was thick as Ruby and I climbed the dusty trail. A few horses passed by, kicking up rocks and dust. Annoyed, I thought about turning back. But at three miles in, a wind kicked in, and traces of sun began to appear. Things were looking up. Plus, the trail was almost empty, finally the tourists clearing out. Soon, the snow will fall, so I had to take advantage of the still-warm weather.

The river was low enough to hop on rocks, and I climbed the final three miles to Horseshoe Lake. There was only one other group there, and I found the perfect campsite on a rock outcrop far from them. The lake was the perfect temperature for swimming and the smoke had cleared to reveal a pale blue sky. It felt good to breathe again.


It was time to hunt for Unit Lake. I had forgotten the guidebook, but I had my map and Gaia GPS, so I headed confidently in the direction I assumed was right. It quickly became clear that even though this lake was only a half mile from the trail, it would be no easy stroll. I crashed through the woods until darkness caused me to retreat. Unit Lake 1, Monkey Bars zero.

The next morning I headed back, convinced that I would find the lake. I climbed up through a rocky cliff, crawling over downed trees. My phone battery drained rapidly (does anyone else have this issue with Gaia GPS?) and my map was nearly useless in the deep forest. I was about to give up when I saw the glimmer of water through the trees. Somehow I had climbed too far above the lake, but there it was. 

Good enough, I thought. It was time to embark on the nine mile trip back to the trailhead, and climbing down to the lake would add considerable time to the journey. Sometimes you just have to call it. 

Does this count as visiting the lake? Probably not. Probably I need to go back. The goal of visiting all the named lakes in the wilderness is arbitrary and I can make up my own rules. I have only heard of one person who has been to all of the lakes and he didn't go down to a few that he deemed too dangerous. So maybe this counts. 

I arrived at the trailhead, enveloped in a thick cloud of smoke. I was back in the land of smoke. It's supposed to rain on Friday. I hope it does.



9 comments:

  1. Too bad the smoke found you. It's been hanging north of us, but forecast to return starting tomorrow. I really don't deal well with AQIs above 100, so I'm dreading yet more days of warm, dry weather.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think this will wind down soon. We have rain forecast for the weekend. I'm just hoping someone doesn't do something dumb in the wilderness before then.

      Delete
  2. Sorry to hear the smoke is enveloping you as well. Our kids (and their dogs :-) from Bend Oregon came to stay with us late last week, the AQI was over 600 near their house. Our youngest son has a retail business in Spokane and so has to stay, though the smoke has been so bad he has had to close the shop multiple days. Thankfully our air here has been mostly good.
    https://aqicn.org/map/usa/oregon/enterprise/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know people say I shouldn't complain about smoke when others are losing houses, but it is hard to constantly breathe it. We aren't as bad as Bend is, though.

      Delete
    2. R taught me that whatever we feel is valid. I used to edit everything I thought to see if I was 'justified' in feeling that way. But just because someone, somewhere is worse off than I am, doesn't mean I can't feel bad about my own situation. There was a time we wouldn't have even known what other's situations were. Now we have instant worldwide communication and well, I will step off my soapbox there.

      Delete
    3. Thanks, that really helps me.

      Delete
  3. It is just 12 months since our horrendous fires raged here in Queensland. It is amazing how far the smoke travels and how long it stays. Glad you found your lake. definitely tick it off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've just read Linda's blog. I had not realised the ferocity and extent of these fires. So tragic for so many.

      Delete
    2. you definitely know what it is like. Hoping your fire season is slow.

      Delete

Hello out there. If you liked this post, please leave a comment so I keep writing!