Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Trail of Cedars

A couple that I met on my hike yesterday B and turned out to be camping a few spots down from me; so this morning I go over to talk with them while they’re having their morning coffee. B is a retired school-teacher from Oregon. I get some advice on hikes to do in Oregon and my hike for the day in Glacier. They recommend the Avalanche Lake trail that starts just a few steps from my campsite.
The trail follows the Avalanche creek up to a clear blue lake. I start in the afternoon after going into town for some errands so the sun is shining low through breaks in the hill of cedars to my right as I climb past waterfalls on the creek to my left. The trail meanders away from the creek so that all you can hear is the low sounds of the roar of the water moving over the rocks. The forest has seen some damage and there are split trees and jagged trunks on all sides but none of the disease that killed the other forest. Eventually the undergrowth takes over and pushes in on the trail and the trees spread out and I can sense that I’m near the lake. 
The lake is elongated and tapered towards me as I emerge from the woods with logs piled up against the start of the creek. I walk out onto the gravel shore and feel like I’m walking out onto a stage in front of an amphitheater of mountains surrounding the lake with the roar of the three tall waterfalls that feed the lake cheering my arrival. In the distance the lake appears to get deeper as it takes on a deep blue color but as you walk towards the other end of the lake, the deep blue recedes and you see that it is the same pale blue clear water throughout. At the center of the lake you can see that the bleached white trees that have fallen down from the mountains push up above the water without floating so it must be shallow all the way across.
I take off my shoes and roll up my pant-legs and walk out into the lake while I let my canteen chill in the cold water. The cold makes my legs numb and when I start to hike back the soreness from yesterday is gone.  
I return to my campsite and sit down at the table to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner since I’ve used the last of my bacon and am not about to pay park prices for groceries. As I’m eating I see a familiar car drive by with B in the driver’s seat and R running behind checking the makers on the campsites. They’re late to camp again and I’m guessing they’re going to be out of luck finding a site so I call out to them as they pass that they’ve always got a spot at my site if they can’t find anything. 10 minutes later the car pulls around again and stops at my site. I go to wash my dishes from dinner while they set up their tent and when I return they offer to pay me the full fee for both nights at my site. Being extremely strapped for cash I can only muster one polite refusal of the money before stuffing it into my pocket dreaming of all the peanut butter, jelly and bread that I’ll be able to buy with it. I do, however, run down to the camp store to pick up some beverages for our camp and we sit up at the picnic table and they tell me about their experience in the Peace Corps.
It’s a full moon tonight and I want to revisit the trail of the cedars that I’d walked through earlier behind my campground. It’s a short trail that loops around a cedar forest on a carefully constructed board walk, Japanese style. The trail is intersected twice by the creek and while crossing the bridges I can see the forest and the water almost as good a day in the moonlight. Under the tall branches of the cedars and the hemlock the light only reaches a few pieces of the path but the glow from the open area of the creek between the straight tall trunks is enough to see by. With no people and no wind I just listen to the boards squeak under my steps as I walk through the trees. I hear water trickling and know that I’m near a weeping wall of rock with moss growing on it. 

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