Sunday, July 02, 2017

Hiking: Desolation Lake

This past Thursday was the perfect day for a hike. I am glad that I have a rotating day off that allows me to hike without a lot of other people. It's a great blessing really. This time I decided to go to Desolation Lake, an approximately 7.8 mile hike. I had done this hike once before, when my two sons were much younger and I was too, although, I had been up this trail part way several times since then. One of the times had been on snow shoes with a group of friends.
I got off to a later start than I normally like. I began hiking at 7:41 AM, the sun already well up. Still the air was cool at first and I found out once again that my stair climber portion of my workout program was paying dividends. The first couple of miles, up to where the trail splits and the left fork goes to Dog Lake (.6 more miles from there) and the right goes to Desolation Lake (1.9 more miles), went easily for me. I generally get passed by some of the younger folk, and nearly every time by an old “billy goat” a gray-haired guy in his seventies. Since I never saw the billy goat, I started thinking that maybe I'm personally moving into billy goat status myself. I'm not even in my sixties yet, but eventually you've got to consider  with pride that the older you get and keep having adventures, the more billy-goat-like you become. I admire those older people who can hike like billy goats. I got passed later by a trail runner, and that's it for people passing me. It's not that I was hiking fast, it's that with less people, there are going to be less people who hike faster—simple arithmetic.
As I meandered up the trail, at first, the sounds of vehicles on the Big Cottonwood Canyon Road could be plainly heard below. As time went on, however, the sound dissipated and eventually vanished as I moved deeper into the canyon and higher in elevation.

Flowers adorned the path, still not in full splendor, but about ready to break forth in mid-summer radiance. A gentle breeze pushed the fragrant scent of the evergreens toward me. The sound that had been cars below, became birds now, and Tiger Swallowtail butterflies and others flitted here and there.
I enjoyed just looking at the trees and lush plant life, sure signs of an abundant water year, and the views of the surrounding peaks were fabulous.

By the time I got to the lake, my stair climber preparation had worn off and I was getting tired.  It had taken me about two hours and twenty minutes from trailhead to lake, and that included stopping to take a lot of pictures. I left the trail at the lake to get up higher and see what I could see, maybe get some better photos of the lake.
Coming back down and circling the lake, I found the spot, under snow, where my sons and I had stopped to skip rocks across the surface of the lake years ago.
Where the furthest left snow patch is, that's where we once skipped rocks.
There had been some perfect rocks for skipping back then, but since the area was under a couple of feet of snow, those rocks were nowhere to be found. Thankfully, I had picked up a nice rock on the other side of the lake and I got as close as I could to the place where we had thrown them before and let it fly. I guess I have an old goat shoulder now too, and hadn't warmed up properly—it hurt to throw. I thought that maybe I'd do better if I had done some spring training...

As I rounded the lake and got to where the trail split off and  went to the north east, up to the ridge, a mountain biker came roaring down the trail. I wasn't on the trail that time, but all the mountain bikers I had seen that day had been courteous and had been watching out for hikers.
I was reminded that I was very close to a very large population of people and that we all can enjoy our various activities in the mountains. For example, I saw no one having a picnic, but there were many nice areas to lay out a blanket and have some food if one were so inclined. There are always many things to do in the mountains.

I sat down then and took a few more pics, ate some of my snacks and then headed back down the trail. On the way down, I took more shots. That's what it's like, hiking with me. This time, I was trying to get some of the butterflies in flight. Most of them wouldn't land, so getting a still shot was going to be tough. I noticed that the Tiger Swallowtails were meeting members of the opposite sex and then disappearing. Probably to a butterfly motel room somewhere.
There's a butterfly in flight here somewhere.

I finally found one that stood still for a moment and caught this pic.
Finally I got back to the parking area, my heart and mind elevated and refreshed—my spirit renewed. As always, the adventure ended too soon, but I knew there would be another one, and I couldn't wait.

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