Monday, August 8, 2011

Big Lil Loop, Day Two

Sublime is how I’d describe Day 2 of our adventure. After a restful night we woke to a breakfast of grits with cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. I was feeling wonderful. Most of the group was planning a hike around the lake to see the view from a dome on the side of the lake. I definitely did not want to tax myself with that, but I did want to walk back a mile to Beehive and see all the flowers during the day. Unfortunately everyone except Rebecca, Jason’s 11-year-old, was going on the long hike and Rebecca wanted to stay in camp. Heather advised me against going alone, and I happily obliged.

Instead, I sat in the shade and wrote in my journal. I laid on my back and meditated on the tree tops. I read from a book of Muir writings borrowed from Mike Marshall. And a few times I made the 20-foot trip over to the waters edge to sit on a log and filter water with electric-blue damselflies sailing about in between their own log rests.

It was perhaps the most relaxing morning of my adult life.

Close to lunch time the group returned with tales of climbing across fallen logs through marshy fields. We had a lot lunch of leftover rice and beans, at my suggestion (that food had not sounded tasty the night before, but did now; a good sign.)

It was 2 p.m. by the time we packed up and headed down the trail, but we only had four mostly-downhill and shaded miles to go to our next and last camp, Gravel Pit Lake. Just as we started out and crossed a stream that fed into Laurel Lake, we came out of the trees into a picture-perfect meadow decorated with flowers and butterflies. Clouds formed behind us to the north that could have held lightning, and later we did think we were hearing a bit of thunder.

Heather had us gather ‘round and gave us a writing assignment (I was thrilled)! She asked us to think about something we had seen and write about it in the flowery way of Muir. My mind began working immediately.

We walked on, soon to a broad view of Lake Eleanor, then to our toughest water crossing at Frog Creek. We took off boots and waded across, me about to my waist. Some of the kids got carried piggy-back by their dads and some went for another swim!

On we ventured to the tune of conversation that ranged from music to religion to SF politics. At Gravel Pit Lake, we were quickly attacked by mosquitos, but found refuge a bit uphill in our own rock city, with established fire rings and knock-out views atop house-sized boulders.

Unfortunately I was the only one to complete the writing assignment. I kept quiet about that and instead read from one of Muir’s essays about experiencing a mountain storm. We marveled about how he welcomes and fully experiences that from which we hide. He wrote: “Nature was holding high festival, and every fiber of the most rigid giants thrilled with glad excitement.”

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