When Tim and I caught up with the 4 others at the lake Deb was constructing a little fire. Not what I had in mind for a day hike. A deer skull perched atop a tall stump; red huckleberry branches stuck through its eye sockets. Dramatic, elegant, haunting. Linda thought the many colors of fall leaves on the berry branches worth sharing. The men had already gone fishing. Linda showed Deb the bottle of seasoning next to the foil wrapped potato slices and then she was gone, off for a walk. Deb asked me how to cook the potatoes. I asked her what else was in the packets before I told her how I have cooked them before. Here is the recipe. Tim had already moved to the lake to fish, dissolving into the landscape with the other men.
I found myself alone with Deb. She pulled out a section of newspaper and started the crossword puzzle. We visited a little but I could see I was distracting her. Realizing I was going to be here for a long time, I wished I had brought my knitting project. What would I do with myself? Maybe I would sketch the mountain across the lake in the sandy beach. I took off to explore.
No journal, sketch book or camera so I decided to use my cell phone and take lots of photos to test its camera capability. Midday light is hard to work with and I had no choices for shutter speed, or aperture. What you see in this blog came from a $30 Tracfone.Fair enough.
On the sand bar that split the lake in two I found mammoth basalt outcroppings next to some granite and quartz veins. I stacked 5 cairns atop boulders and photographed them from many viewpoints.
The men caught several cutthroats and Deb laid them in foil, sprinkled their skin with the seasoning, folded the foil edges together and set them in the fire. Linda came back from her walk. She had hiked on to Anderson Lake. I had eaten my peanut butter–honey sandwich and some plums so I only tasted a big bite of trout that Tim had squirted with lemon. Just a little fishy tasting, slightly undercooked, yet wonderful next to the lake where they had lived an hour before.
We ate and then the men fished again. I walked completely around the lake and took more photos of the surroundings and teeny toads and the diversity of animal tracks. The boot print mingled with bear tracks talked to me about why I live in wild mountains. So did the dry crusted footprint left by a barefoot young person or a woman. I am so small and temporary in this world. And that is as it should be. Like the tracks, I too will last only a short while. I accept it.
We hiked down the rocky trail aside Boulder Creek and sat in lawn chairs around a dog crate-turned-table, covered with a bright printed cloth. We shared fruit and pretzels in pretty bowls and cold beers. It was a long and relaxing day, not the way I usually hike, snack, and return to whatever happens next in the day. This group has been doing this for 6 years. I’ll probably go with them again just to push myself up trails faster. And now I know what to expect. My own slower hiking pace is accepted by them, we each had our solitude together. With them I learned, again, to spend a long time on the mountain. No hurries.