Friday, November 23, 2007

Lovely (Lost) Lake

Journal: Entry Two; Lovely Lake
One of the favorite hikes in the Arkansas River valley is not on the Chamber of Commerce hikes for vacationers. We have been asked by some who write the yearly documents that are handed out to tourists if this hike should be shared. We immediately say a resounding “no”. There are some hikes that the locals prefer to keep to themselves. One of the things we like most about hiking is the solitude and quiet of being closer to God in the high country. The last thing we want is a large group of touristas with their loud, whiney city kids and obnoxious dogs interfering with our religious experience. So for confidentiality purposes I will name this hike Lovely Lake and those who know this hike will know which one I am referring to. In the past years a group of hiking buddies and I have taken this hike to a new level. We go in the early evening and each of us packs a gourmet dinner to share with everyone. The foods we can place gingerly into our backpacks are amazing to see. I have seen lots of wine, beer, homemade blueberry pie, tequila/lime soaked chicken tenders, Thai chicken wraps, smoked salmon, goat cheese, and various assortments of sandwiches. We hike just below the Continental Divide on a parallel path that leads us to the Lovely Lake.
About two thirds of the way there, and if the sky is clear, you can see the snowy peaks of Pikes Peak which is around one hundred miles away.

The wild flowers are usually in bloom also in late June and July. Lots of elephant heads, a variety of colors of Indian Paintbrush, penstemon, and chiming bells.
I am always amazed that these fragile, small, beautiful flowers can survive each winter at around eleven thousand feet, frozen, and covered with several yards of snow pack.
I am encouraged every year by their courage and tenacity to rise out of the frozen hard ground and show the world once again that they are survivors and have lived another year to share their beauty.
But I return back to this hike. I really do not have the correct words to describe a gourmet dinner eaten at the banks of a high country lake. Wonderful friends and conversation; sharing of food; and a sunset to view that is another religious experience all by itself. We almost want to whisper to ourselves because we feel so close to a supreme being here, and it seems like we should pay homage and be reverent.
I have also taken this hike early in June when you must trudge through snow pack. This year at the end the snow pack was covering the last part of the trail and we could hear and see the stream was flowing under the snow pack. We knew we could not walk on this snow and did not trust it to hold our weight. The other option was to traverse a large boulder field where we usually see and hear pika and marmot that live there. We doggedly, like the mountain goats we really are, clamored over the rocks to reach the final destination.

One third of the lake was still frozen, and we sat like usual and soaked in the sight. A bright sun and Colorado blue ski welcomed us and we adored it as we silently ate our respective lunches together.

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