Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ptarmagin Lake

Journal: Entry Five; Ptarmigan Lake

The Monday hikers went this week to a lake called Ptarmigan Lake. We started out in the national forest outside Buena Vista to the west just before Cottonwood Pass. We hiked to about 11,500 feet. It took us two and one half hours just to get to the lake. The Monday hikes are really a big social event. There is a lot of conversation and gaiety going on. The first two thirds of this hike include a continuous incline mostly in the forest. The last third we saw two smaller lakes nestled in a beautiful small meadow. This is where we see many wildflowers. DYF, otherwise known as damn yellow flowers, as there are so many yellow flowers we cannot really remember their names. There are a lot of Indian Paint Brushes, all colors, rosy, white, red-orange, purple, and a light green/yellow. Last year when on this same hike we actually almost stepped on the bird the lake is named for. A mother Ptarmigan was walking very slowly on the trail. Her coloring at the time was just like the grey speckled rocks that were strewn on the hillside. She startled us and we stopped in watch her move slowly off the trail we were all standing on. Then, just as she was off the trail, two very small babies, and exact replicas of the mother, jumped on her back and took a ride with her into the rocky terrain. This was the first year I had ever seen the bird there. I understand they do not hear very well and they are one of a few animals who change their coloring with the climate. In the winter their feathers turn white. They stay at this altitude of 11,000 feet all year long. We always eat lunch on the Monday hikes at whatever destination was our goal.

One of the men who is new to our hikes looked out over the beauty of the high country lakes and mountain terrain and recited a poem for us that gave me the chills.
It was so apropos; he said he had been waiting to share the poem with just the right setting. He certainly did an excellent job with it.
Pluto, god of the under-world
reaches for the heavens:
but his exultation seems frozen
for the instant of a human lifetime.
These massive mounds of the earth’s flesh
are but a mere wrinkle in reality.
Lie on his beds of rock
and let yourself
Be absorbed.
Sense its stark, silent majesty,
Feel the intense calming power.
Surrender your mind and listen……..
And the mountain will serenade you
with its silent symphony.
Ken Knezic

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