8 July, 2016
All obligations are over. We sleep in until almost 9am, then stare at the dozens of mosquitos waiting patiently on the screen door of our tent. We pack up with bug nets over our heads and cook breakfast in the same fashion, eating oatmeal as we move from rock to rock in hopes of eluding the pesky creatures.
As we finish up, Don and Bear arrive from Sheep Camp. Bear is 7 years old with curly black hair, a round belly, pink tongue, and a satisfied whine when you rub his tummy. Don is a lightweight backpacker in true Ray Jardin style. He has hiked this trail every year for the last 34 years. We talk about the John Muir Trail, which he recently completed with his wife, and the morning dissolves into noon. Some of the hikers from Happy Camp start filtering through. Finally Don’s light trail shoes go back on, Bear eats a stick of salami, the Jetboil is packed away, signaling it is time for us all to move on. There are rumors that the boy scouts are coming!
Thom and I head out at a leisurely pace, stopping to take macro shots of the waist high wildflowers and crouching down to get a good view of what we have dubbed to be “mountain coral” – the tiny intricate lichen that grow slowly into spindly ruffles and lacy orbs. Walking along the roaring canyon, we marvel at the depth of the chasm and the energy contained in the churning water. Does this unstoppable force really freeze and become a snow-covered highway with easy passage for stampeder sleds.
Lindeman offers a welcome lunch break, some education at the interpretive tent, and a quick chilly dunk in the glacial green waters. Then we are on our way to Bare Loon. As we hike the now sandy trails, in between granite boulders and widely-spaced spruce, Thom comments, “This reminds me of hiking in Colorado.” Funny how we attach our reference points to our home places – for me it is quintessential Sierra Nevada; for him it is clearly Rocky Mountains. In truth, it is its own place, the start of the “Interior” – a word used often enough by the Canadians on this trail that I understand it as a political geography. It is beautiful and familiar at any rate.
We arrive at Bare Loon, eager for a second swim, and most of the camp residents seem to agree as they are already in the water, splashing between the rocky islets near the shore. After our previous swimming adventures, the water is practically warm. It feels wonderful to sprint for the short distance to the rocks, hoping 4 days of trail dirt and sweat is loosening from our skin as goosebumps pop up. Finally, there is some time to brush hair, organize clothing, catch up on journalling, while the last few hikers arrive and hurriedly set up tents to the sound of approaching thunder. Everyone gathers under the cooking shelter as rain splats, then pours, from the sky. Dinner is a crowded, noisy affair, but full of more stories and conversation, shared chocolate and ginger and Jetboil magic shows. Eventually the crowd thins as the rain moves on. Across the lake we begin to hear the loons calling out the evening vespers. It is time for bed.
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