Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Summer Soliloquy

Venturing solo to prepare the Owl Conservatory for summer shenanigans, I arrived on solstice and established “Base Camp Juan.” My expectation was solitude and soliloquy, and perhaps peace and reflection after a busy school year. On the contrary, my “peeps” turned out “like moths to the flame,” said one.

Good thing, too. Part of reason for the trip was to hike, and with many roads washed out on the Wenatchee River Ranger District, the Miata wasn’t going to cut the mustard. Thanks to old Forest Service buddies with four-wheel drive rigs, we were able to reach Heather Lake trailhead close to the crest of the North Cascades.

The four-mile trail to Heather Lake (above) begins in old growth mountain hemlock and Pacific silver firs and climbs about 1,300 feet. Listed as “intermediate” in terms of difficulty, the first mile is flat and eventually crosses a bridge over Lake Creek, which percolates through a small canyon on either side of the span.

A writer for justgetout.net, an outdoor recreation website, noted: “Heather Lake seems like a misnomer because you’re going to be seriously challenged to find heather growing along the edge of this pretty lake.” Say what? Perhaps she should have looked at her feet, adjacent to where she took a picture of the lake for her article.

Or maybe she may didn't recognize the ubiquitous alpine shrub (above). In any case, the mountain heather was not only prevalent, but also in full bloom, which typically occurs soon after the snows recede. Along the trail, cow parsley was scattered amongst the devil's club, while the mountain huckleberries were still maturing.

Great way to start to summer, with plenty of time to prepare the site for a busy summer of backcountry adventures, recharge the batteries at the center of the universe, and cavort with old cronies: likely the best of all possible worlds. Now, if we could just do something about those pesky mosquitoes.