Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Lake #62

I meet with one of my far away hiking partners via Zoom. He is retiring next summer and is planning an epic driving and hiking tour. The JMT, Glacier, Olympic, and many more. This is what I aspire to someday.  He decides to book a guided trip on the JMT because of the difficulty of getting permits, though I warn against it--it could go either way, but traipsing through the Sierra at your own pace is best. I consider this: I am going to try to take a month off from work next summer. Should I switch from the Colorado Trail (which has lots of lightning and rain) to the Sierra? Anything seems possible right now.

 I don't feel too envious-he is 64 and has put in his time. I don't want to be 64 yet. "I probably have ten or fifteen good years left," he says, though like everyone, he hopes there are more. I don't blame him for trying to fit it all in--I feel the same way. Lately, I drag myself out of bed having not slept more than a few hours, and with inexplicable joint pains. I will reset in October, I think. For two weeks I ate mostly vegetables and the pains went away, but that limited calorie diet with the exercise I want to do isn't sustainable. I need to figure this out. Snow is coming, and with it more time indoors to recalibrate. I need to stay healthy--there is so  much more to do.

"You've gotten out a lot this summer," he pointed out. I have to admit that's true, though it has been in smaller chunks than I would like. Still, it's been good. I am down to less than eleven lakes on my quest to visit all of them in the wilderness. Trying to beat the snow, I scrambled to get to one of them last week.

The approach is a longish one, with a continuous climb through unhealthy forest until I break out into a series of alpine basins, climb up to a pass and then hurtle down much of the elevation I have just gained. This is big country, and one of my favorite areas. I've been up here a lot, but it is still breathtaking. There are still some off-trail routes waiting to be discovered. The tourists have largely scattered, with a few bow hunters and some die-hard backpackers the only ones I see.




Few people travel to the lake I am aiming for. The lake is on a dead-end trail that has been obscured by blowdown and requires a treacherous descent. The map claims it to be a 1.3 mile hike from the junction, but it ends up being at least two miles one way, leading to a 16 mile day. In places, the trail disappeared completely, requiring some crashing through brush and puzzling out the next step. I am seriously questioning the value of this whole trip when I stumble n the swampy shores of a quiet lake.


A fire has left burnt trees on one end of the lake, but the rest is thickly forested. This isn't a lake with outstanding scenery, and I probably would not have gone if it weren't for my goal. It's doubtful many people go here. Back at camp, I unfurl my map. The remaining ten lakes will be harder to visit--most are off trail and some look impossible. Still, it is good to have possibility in my life. 

The clock ticks. I've done so much in my life and there is so much more I want to do. All I can do is hope I am granted the gift of time.




12 comments:

  1. In the end, "time" is all we have. Every dream goes up in smoke when time runs out. Thus, today...NOW...is really all we have. Of course, we can't count on the gift of "time," which, at some point in our lives becomes the biggest question. Are you a gambler?

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    1. I'm not really a gambler. Thus my frantic attempts to do all of the things.

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  2. Replies
    1. It's seriously one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.

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  3. Consider fire forecasts if you are thinking about the Sierras...

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  4. Having reached 'three score years and ten', I am thankful to have been granted the 'gift of time' and the abilty to continue hiking. I just wish I had all the beautiful options open to you. Goodluck with the remaining lakes.

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    1. You are one of the outliers and I hope I can follow suit.

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  5. It's good to have goals, otherwise we just keep doing the same things. Goals force us to see/try new things. I like your goal of visiting all the lakes.

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    1. Yep! It's been a little tough with Covid summers. Though I did take one trip to the Grand Canyon, I could not justify widespread travel. Hopefully this nightmare will end by next summer.

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  6. That's the type of landscape I love! I am thankful for the good health I have and don't take it for granted and that is the case even more so these days.

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