Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Beaten Path - Day 4 - Elk Lake

I'd like to report that each morning I bounced out of the sleeping bag ready to take several side trips and run, not walk, to the north trail head.  But by Day 4, my dogs were barking.  It feels as if I'm in pretty good shape for a 62 year old, but there was no getting around the stiffness and the sore feet.  The good news is after walking for awhile, it was not so noticeable.

Interestingly, we ate relatively little in comparison to our caloric output on this trip.  I have not felt particularly hungry, and I knew I was losing what turned out to be about 5 lb. (2.3 kg)  What is it, then, this need to eat that I feel when I am at home burning many fewer calories?

We took off early in order to be at Elk Lake in time for our planned rendezvous with Matt.  It was warmer this morning -- 50F (10C) at 7 AM.

Just south of the Rimrock Lake camp, we crossed to the other side of East Rosebud Creek on a actual bridge.  There's a LOT of water going under that bridge (barely visible in the lower right corner of the photo at right).  Without the bridge, this north end of the trail would fall into disuse.

Heading south from the bridge, the trail continues to drop rapidly in elevation.  Parts of it hang on steep rock faces, but nothing felt particularly scary.....although it was clear that falling would ruin your day.

As we were threading our way along the cliff trail, two runners burst into view.  Maybe Larry and I should have just run the trail.

The hike to Elk Lake took several hours.  Part of the trail near the lake works its way through a burn, and there were many berry-bearing shrubs coming in after the fire.  I have never eaten thimbleberries.  They were ripe and good.

Elk Lake had elk tracks.  And deer tracks.  And a beach with sand and grass.  It was perfect for a quick (very quick) swim in the sunshine.  Larry told the family when we got home that he saw a great white walrus in the lake.  I didn't see it.

The lake had many visitors.  The lake is close enough to the trail head that more groups arrived from the north end after we for the scenery or fishing.  No one else seemed to be swimming, however.

Matt showed up right at noon....with this great looking Dagwood Bumstead sandwich.  I was impressed -- no summer sausage and cheese for this guy!  He also offered to carry Larry's pack, and later, about half way to the finish line, Larry offered to carry mine.  I put up a brief fight.

The Beaten Path is a remote place.  It is remote enough that we had to drive about a half hour to get any cell phone reception whatever, and that, of course, is the true measure of remoteness in the early 21st century.

It was also remote enough to be good for the soul.  The solitude was refreshing.  Larry and I talked when we wanted to, but also respected each other's need for quiet.

I know why Jesus left the crowds to pray.  When Linda and I visited Israel in 2004, I rose early in the Judean wilderness before the sun even lit the mountains east of the Jordan.  I walked out of the camp and talked with the Lord as the sky began to lighten.  It was the same here in the Absaroka-Beartooth wilderness.  Somehow, away from the works of man, it is easier to connect with God.

I am grateful that such places as this exist.  They are a window into our past.  This land is little changed from the days when it knew only the feet of the Crow Indians.

One never knows when will be the last time for something.  The season for climbing through the mountains is winding down for Larry and I, and I'm happy that we have the health to enjoy it still.  It will be a good memory for us both.

The Beaten Path
Trip Photo Album

1 comment:

  1. Great trip account. A friend and I are doing this route later this week. I agree...God seems closer in the wilderness. Thanks for sharing.