I’ve been eyeing this hike for awhile now. An annual favorite, to do over and over as long as the season permits it, it’s a place I visit every year and it’s one of the many I call my favorite. The scenery is spectacular and made of mountains, wild peaks and dotted alpine lakes galore. It’s pristine, plus a few of my favorite spirit animals are usually easily to be found there, adding to the experience by giving it an extra bonus. What’s not to love about this place? These reasons alone are a huge part as to why I give thanks and feel lucky to live within an hour of such beauty. And still, it’s not the only reasons and I have to include the ambience and the vibe I get from this place and how it makes me feel. It’s serene, majestic and nourishing to my spirit. I can feel the calm cover my soul as if I was wrapped in a warm, soothing blanket. It’s a place where all hectic ends and peace is restored, where I can breathe and not worry about a thing. Where I can marvel in the endless beauty and lose myself. It’s a place where I’m restored, a place that ends the turmoil within while satisfying your inner tranquility as if you had giving into some of your deepest of cravings. The sense you experience when you feed your body with healthy food, when you take that first big gulp of milk right out of the jug after craving it’s taste and being unable to wait to pour a glass. It’s the orange juice you have been missing for so long, the moment you walk out of work and know vacation has officially started. It’s things like that and I find them simply marvelous as they resemble pure magic to me. I love it….
And here we were, on the way to that very place that could be all of these things to me and stir all of these emotions.
The heavy winter made it impossible to go visit until about two weeks ago and even then I was unsure if we would make it up to the lake due to snow. The Jeep was the only car at the trail head parking lot, an unusual sight to be cherished as this would change quickly in a few weeks. Even so, it never gets too crowded in this wide open space and we have a few special places that we usually can claim to ourselves without interruptions. The tiny creek at the beginning of the trail was as full as I have ever seen it. Filled to the top of the crossing, it was threatening to spill over the soft mossy grass that was fully saturated with moisture. One obstacle down and surely there would be more to come during the ascend to Long Lake. The trail was beginning to climb but felt effortlessly to me. It had not always been the case and I credited this success to a combination of getting stronger over the years and pure adrenaline propelling me forward. I was determined and I wanted to make it all the way up. Prior struggles in the beginning of my hiking days seemed to be a thing of the past, no longer making me pause while trying to catch my breath. I didn’t stop once but instead found my pace and steadily kept climbing. Little streams, waterfalls and new lakes had formed everywhere with water shooting down from above. The trail appeared to be swallowed up by winter and in large part it was washed away. After conquering an obstacle course filled with fallen trees, ponds and alternate routes, we hit the snow line and it was amazing how much snow had remained and hadn’t melted yet. We decided to bushwhack of the beaten path that was currently invisible and took a new route with sunnier exposures in the hopes of encountering less snow and being able to summit all the way up to the lake.
It was spectacular, with new, never before seen angles of the area, new rock formations and a couple of deers that looked at us as if they were surprised to see us of the usual trail. Calm, they never got spooked and accepted us as one of their own, slowly walking past us within a short distance, carrying on to whatever location was calling their name. I spotted a marmot sunbathing on top of a huge rock pile overlooking the land, but I never got a good picture of it. I was smiling in the comfort of seeing them around as this would fill the day with possibilities of potentially spotting these furry little Critters once more.
The trail continued to climb and we found ourselves again in the snow. It was impossible to escape with the climbing trail and it was in,y a matter of time to encounter it again. Tree trunks were buried in several feet of snow, but luckily the snow was pretty packed which was a relief for me and my phobia of sinking into a deep crevice and getting stuck. Ahead was one big glacial ice field that was spread out in front. The snow was shimmering blue as we passed some deep cracks and pushed on towards the lake. And then it happened. We had reached the rim above the lake and a still frozen, snow covered lake nestled into a rock granite bowl was lying at our feet. We’ve made it for the first time this year. All feelings described in this post caught up with me ten fold over as it was also my first time seeing the lake in all its winter wonderland glory. We spotted a great sun bathing ridge and the canopy of a giant tree within a short distance. That was it, picture perfect and the ultimate hang out spot for the entire day. Life was good during those moments sitting under the branches of the old faithful giant, bent from the wind but standing strong and firmly grounded. And we decided to stay for awhile….