Tag Archives: lake

High mountain explorers.

My friend who’d never been to our mountain retreat had a desire to walk all the way around the lake. I told her that would take all day, and I didn’t know if my feet were up to it. So we walked for a few hours (round trip) and got to one end of the lake where a little creek flows in. I’d never done that walk before, so I felt happy about accomplishing a new thing.

It was also fun to get new perspectives on old favorite vistas.

At first I was surprised by the hundreds of dragonflies zipping around us most of the way, but then I remembered my amazement two years ago in this place. When occasionally one seemed to be considering alighting on the ground, I’d say, “Please stop here just a moment so I can look at you more closely!” But their English isn’t very good, and they mistook here for her, and stopped on Myriah’s pant leg. But not long enough for me to get close.


We admired the rocks and grass and moss, and domes across the lake,
and waded in the chilly waters to get to the inlet.
We didn’t see another soul.

Soon after we got back to the cabin, we got our last dinner assembled and cooking.

It’s been more than 25 years since I stayed five nights in a row at the lake. What a relaxing and rejuvenating time this was, and nourishing to the friendship of my companion and me. So I count the whole week as another sort of new exploration. Next time, longer! But now I am home and gathering my wits and strength for adventures coming my way this fall.

Thankful.

A bird in the mountains.

I’m in the mountains, at my cabin, with my friend. It’s all lovely.
The sky is free of the smoke that has at times drifted south from Yosemite fires.

Myriah and I drove up earlier this week. She’s never been here before and hadn’t envisioned how remote and un-resortlike it is. We have been talking a lot, catching up on the last 65 years of each other’s lives, including learning how our respective parents met, details of our childhoods and college years and our children’s and grandchildren’s babyhood and wonderfulness.

We’ve been walking, reading, cooking, sitting on the deck. We saw strange large birds our first morning, that we haven’t been able to identify based on our brief glimpse of them thudding into the window and flapping in the trees. That was special enough, to have a close encounter with something other than a Steller’s Jay up here. But this morning while drinking my morning tea I saw a bright bird that quickly flew off, but that had such distinctive colors he was easy to identify from a “Birds of the Sierra Nevada” pamphlet: he is a Western Tanager!

I have no hope of getting a photograph of this fellow, if he even comes near again to sit in a pine tree, so I am showing a picture I found. He has been the highlight of my stay so far. I was as happy as if I had found a bag of gold under a hunk of granite.

 

In the glorious elements.

gl P1040981 huge dome & lakeWhen we were up in the mountains last week, my granddaughter Maggie often played a game on her phone, which involved creating things from earth, fire, water and air…  Just now I realized that our experiences during our vacation were centered around a similar thematic group, consisting of Rock, Water, and Stars, with a little Fire and Trees in the mix, too.

A wildfire was burning close to our route up the mountain (Fire+Trees=Wildfire+Smoke), which may account for the hazy look of this top photo, which nevertheless combines in grandeur several mountain elements. (Rock + Trees + Water + Evening Light = Wow)

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We stopped at the redwood grove on our way, because it never hurts to get a dose of the stately and patient mood the giant trees maintain, and Maggie had never met these particular specimens before. She read a sign and reminded us that some of them have been here since the time of Christ. (Trees + Time = Giant Sequoias)

 

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Here you can see how tidy is the bundle on top of my car, which early that morning Pearl had helped me wrap envelope-style, before I did my knot work. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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The bundle remained tight and noiseless at freeway speeds (on the way up the mountain, at least), so we were relieved.

As soon as we pulled up to the cabin, Maggie was running, flying down the hill as the bird flies, to “explore.” Just below our place she had to cross this large slab of granite sloping down toward the lake.

gl P1040975 slab below cabin CR

Her mother and grandmother (me) did not attempt to go anywhere on foot that evening, because we were feeling the altitude. It really slows a person down, to be eight thousand feet higher in elevation than your lungs are used to. Maggie also noticed that she was out of breath more quickly, but it didn’t seem to slow her down much! (Activity – Air = Sluggishness)

So that night after dinner we curled up and listened to me read Farley Mowat’s The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be, a very funny story that we had also read at the cabin about fifteen years ago. I later saw in The Cabin Log Kate’s account of that previous reading, “We laughed until we cried (seriously!)”

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The next afternoon we went canoeing, which we could all three do together, after hauling the canoe down to the water. It was lovely while we were out there, but we only did that once, because the canoe is really too heavy for us little women. After seeing women paddling solo around the lake in kayaks, I have started thinking that I should invest in one of those little boats I could manage by myself, so that I could enjoy exploring the lake when I am up there on my own. If any of my readers has knowledge of this subject, I’d appreciate your input.

The photo above also shows Maggie with one of the friends she made, in the water near the rock that looks like a cracked egg, from which they would leap into the water. Having an almost 13-yr-old with me was part of why this stay at the lake was unusual. She was eager to do everything that could possibly be done, from lying in her hammock under the deck to swimming in the lake that the rest of us had always considered too cold.gl P1050100 CR Fi leap

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The days we were there were leading up to a work day and potluck for the members of the owners’ association, which brought many more people up to the lake than I’ve ever seen at one time. This is why tgl P1050006 M w marshmallowhere were children Maggie’s age to play with, and how it happened that on two nights we shared three different campfires with new friends. It was a strangely social time, though not overly so. We all had time each day to be quiet and alone as well. And I really do want to know the families who have cabins at our lake, some of whom have been coming for over 50 years and passing their property down through the generations.gl P1050123

 

We had two campfires at our own cabin, which Maggie built herself. We made s’mores and popped popcorn over the fires, for the popcorn using this venerable device that can also be used in a fireplace. But the weather was so mild, we didn’t build a fire indoors.

One day I took Pearl and Maggie over to Gumdrop Dome which we always have to climb partially or to the top. The views and the photography from up there are unbeatable, but for the last many years it has only been partially to the top for me. I showed them the way that everyone seems to go, and saw them off with a cheery “See you on the other side!”, confident that they would have no trouble getting to the top, young and strong as they are.

But it was not to be. They came down the way they had started up, and eventually came around the dome to find me above them, partway up. I had  been hollering “Hel-looo!” every so often for 45 minutes, and praying that they hadn’t both fallen and hit their heads. This is what it looked like, where I was expecting to see them come over the top:

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In real life it feels steeper than it looks, but I think the angle of this photo conveys the feeling pretty well. And then, there is that lack of oxygen.

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While I was waiting, on the lower sides of the dome, I still had lots of beauty to keep me enthralled. Everything from succulents at my feet to the famous Ant Island across the lake.

 

Water + Sky + Rock = Mountain Beauty

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At night before bed we all liked to lie on the deck and look up at the stars for a half hour or more. What can I say about them? No words are adequate. Each one is energized, is what it is, by God’s Holy Spirit, and there are gazillions of them making an incredibly showy and captivating display that is completely silent. Perhaps it is the silence that helps us become receptive, so that they are able to convey to us some of their spirit. God uses them to thrill our souls, I know that at least. Maggie said she could never get tired of looking at them, and I must agree.

But eventually we had to go to bed. I will leave you with a view of the lake at evening, when we see that Water + Evening = silver glass.

Good-bye, Dear Mountain Air, Rock and Stars, Lake and Trees — all you Mountain Elements — until next summer!

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Up and Down the Mountain

Last week was the occasion of a blessed excursion to my family’s mountain cabin, and this time I shared the time with my dear friend Mrs. Bread.

I’ve blogged about the cabin and lake before, here and here. The last two years I went mostly for time alone with God in His Creation. This time I enjoyed plenty of that experience, plus deepening of friendship, and working on improving or maintaining the house and property. Now that my father has passed, I am part owner of this place, and I happily but more intensely feel the responsibility to do my part, though I’m afraid I’ll never match the hardworking devotion of my siblings who live closer; some of them can dash up just for the day if they need to.

Here I am painting the threshold and doorjamb against the elements of winter. One year–or maybe more than one–the whole cabin was buried in snow, just a lump in the white landscape.

The drive took me ten hours, what with a leisurely detour to pick up Mrs. Bread on the way. So we stayed four nights so as to have three whole days for taking pictures, cooking, reading together, cleaning, admiring giant boulders and listening to the silence of the forest.
How can it be so awe-fully quiet? There are birds flitting and chipmunks scampering, breezes blowing and even the occasional chain saw in the village. But the earth feels peacefully serene up there, weighted with quiet, heavy with a silence that speaks of God’s presence. I seem to soak up contentedness and rest.

I needed the rest, as I had come down with a cough and cold in the two days before. The altitude gave me a headache the first night, and we both suffered from the reduced oxygen, our legs uncooperative and slow when we dragged back up the hill after a walk down to the lake.

It’s the High Sierra, and up there the mornings start out below freezing this time of year, making you want to lie abed and watch the sky lighten out the window. By midday it can be sunburning hot out on the deck, so we sat in the shade of the umbrella to peruse the several tree guides that have found their way to the cabin’s bookshelf.

At first we limited ourselves to studying the general shapes and angles of branches, focusing in on the cones with binoculars. Eventually we walked among the trees below the cabin and noticed where cones had fallen underneath their mother trees.

The pines in the neighborhood are mostly Lodgepole, as illustrated by the picture here. But to be truthful, it took Pippin’s later confirmation of that suspicion to make me believe it.

As we walked together marveling at the various beautiful flowers, berries, and stones, Mrs. Bread said, “These little trees grab at my heart!” See why I love her?

  

What a lot can be seen in this photograph, taken from outside the picture window, while I was sitting at the table inside writing a letter to a grandson. You can see the kitchen behind me, and the lake reflected behind Mrs. Bread’s reflection.

I like having these pictures of myself at the lake, something besides the ones of my feet that I took last year when solitary. Thanks, my friend!

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These three trees stood out from the pines with their trunks shown off by the granite slabs.  Mr. Glad thinks they might be red cedars.

The first morning at the cabin I read in the Psalter, “For Thou hast said: Mercy shall be built up for ever,” (Ps. 88) and was musing about the image that phrase conjured in my mind, of an edifice being constructed. And why not the image of towers of clouds, that often rain down showers of blessing? From now on, when I see cloud skyscrapers rising fast, piling layer upon layer, I will think of the way God’s mercies do the same, every morning.

Someone brought this small remembrance of our father up to put on the bedroom wall. If you click on it a couple of times you can read the labels. I love seeing my father’s handwriting, which didn’t change in all the years since this collection was made when he was in college.

Mrs. Bread helped me firm up my resolve to try really hard to come up to this beloved place more next year. It’s not available for very long, though: This week shutters will be put up, water turned off, chimney covered, to mention only a few of the many tasks to protect the house from blizzards–and if we can get through the snow to open it up before the first of July we’ll be happy.

I’ve never been up more than twice in a summer; I wonder if I really do have the liberty to even dream of spending a week, or visiting twice or three times. I’ll pray for a miracle, and wait to see how the Lord chooses to pile up His mercies next year.