Sunday, October 11, 2009

Not a Boating Weekend: Geezer Hike 2009

This weekend we did a late-season backpacking trip up into the Cascades, to Goat Lake. This would not be a particularly strenuous trip for you younger folks (5.2 miles, 1300 vertical), but for us, without any warm-up, it was just right. That is, we probably couldn't have made it if it was much more.

The hike is pretty gentle for the first 5 miles, rising from about 1900 feet to about 2600 feet along an old, abandoned road. This road was built in the 1890s to serve a small mining town. The mining must have been pretty good, to drive the creation of this road - a big Cat bulldozer would have had a rough time of it - I'm not sure how this would have been done before they were invented.

Yet in the 100 years since its creation, many parts of the road are now unusable. There are washouts, landslides, and trees across it.

There were trees... oh, my gosh, there were trees... big ones! Some must have been growing when Columbus was heading west... At least one needed to be straightened up a little. We all try to do our part.

Lunch was served al fresco, at a restaurant that has the best ambiance of any I have ever seen.

It is the last 0.5 mile or so of the trail that is the hardest - in this short stretch, it rises 600 feet, to the lake. That is 60 stories in half a mile.

No trace of the old town remains, and in fact our campsite was at the old site of a hotel/headquarters building. Now the site holds nothing but towering hemlocks (and our tent, briefly).

And then the lake. Ah, the lake. Our campsite looked right at it. It is surrounded by mountains with glaciers and the first of this year's snow.

The water maples and the vine maples were at the peak of their colors (pure luck on our part) - they were spectacular! In a place like this, you come face-to-face with the reality that the works of man are nothing compared to those of God.

Jane says that everyone should see a mountain lake at least once a year. I would add that unless you earn it, the experience is devalued.

It is well worth the stiff calves we are both suffering from this evening...

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