Saturday, August 22, 2015, Mile 2432: Gratitude

At Deep Lake, Mile 2432

Happy birthday to me…I’m 51 today!

I hit the rack last night a bit after 9:30, and I could feel it today. There’s a reason they call 9:00 “Hiker Midnight.”

This morning, I got up, said goodbye to my camp mates, who were fixing their breakfast, and headed down the trail. As I descended the ridge, I met a couple at the next campsite; they were about my age. The wife said to me, “Way to go! We need to show these kids that it doesn’t have to be just 20-somethings out here solo hiking.” And I replied, “No, it doesn’t. I’m 51, and in fact today’s my birthday.”

With an “Oh my gosh!” she rummaged around in her pack, and pulled out a big chunk of homemade peanut brittle! She handed it to me, and I got another delightful round of Happy Birthday, dear Rest Step!

The husband heard my name, and asked if I had been in the Mountaineers.  So I explained the connection. What a great encounter that was!

I descended the ridge, to Waptus River. There’s a lovely wood bridge which crosses the river, although it was so low it would have been an easy ford. I treated myself to a bit of relaxation: washing up (no soap), rinsing out my socks (eww), refilling with clear, cold water (yum), and putting my feet up while I had a mid-morning snack.

2015-08-22 10.53.14
The view from the Waptus River laundromat
2015-08-22 10.53.40
That’s as clean as my socks ever got
2015-08-22 12.30.18
Crossing Waptus River and heading north

My goal today was a campsite at the base of Cathedral Rock. ‘Twas a lofty goal, but not to be. I hiked around Waptus Lake, and up Spinola Creek, and when I got to the Deep Lake side trail, it became very apparent that I was going to stop here. The ascent up the ridge to Cathedral Pass has a southern aspect, the sun was very hot, and I didn’t feel like schlepping water up the ridge to a dry camp. So Deep Lake became the destination of choice.

Deep Lake 1
Hiking in to Deep Lake, with Cathedral Rock in the background *

After scouting around, I found a large campsite with two tents and room for one more. One of them was unoccupied, but there was a father/son pair (Paul and Matt) in the other.

The ranger came around while I was setting up my camp. She wanted to check my permit, make sure I knew LNT, and make sure I knew there was a backcountry toilet a little ways away. Life’s little pleasures…a loo with a seat!

I went down with Paul, to soak my feet in the lake; Matt was out fishing. We found a lovely rock, where I could soak my burning feet in water that was exactly the right temperature (and clear enough for a very easy fill-up).

Deep Lake
What a place to soak your feet! *

After a long, roundabout conversation, we discovered a connection! He works for the City of Everett, and I made the connection back to Tom, the husband of one of Lynn’s best friends). Tom and Paul have worked together since forever. So I can now say that I shared a campsite with my son’s godmother’s best friend’s husband’s longtime colleague. How about that?

The sun was sinking, so we headed back to the campsite. I fixed dinner, had a bit of dessert, and crawled in bed before 8. Luxury!

Tonight I’m grateful for many things.  A birthday song. A river, a lake, and a mountain view. Friends along the way. And most of all, my family.

*Photo credit: Eric Aalto

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