Friday, September 9, 2016

Day 5- Liquid sunshine

15 miles to Lake Susan Jane (2457)

Growing up in Oregon, my parents called this "liquid sunshine." Which meant we bundled up in our raincoats and went outside anyway. Today was everything I remember fondly of Pacific Northwest rain- greens so bright you nearly need sunglasses, swirling rolling fog, silhouetted evergreens, and that smell of fresh clean air. 
Jan has dubbed these our capes, sort of like superhero capes.
Watching fog.
 The morning rain came softly.  A dry rain. You think I'm joking, but no. It doesn't rain heavy enough to soak in. Feet stay dry. The sun almost is visible behind layers of clouds. The first layer of mountains are topped by clouds. 
Swirling fog
Resting feet between raindrops
Three big climbs today. So much up and down I forget if we are going up or down. Sometimes I ask Jan. Sometimes I forget why I care. 

On top of a pass, four guys tell us about the lakes they've passed. I am shivering as I sit and eat my lunch but still want to know about swimming possibilities. Mig Lake, they say, felt warm. An extra spoonful of peanut butter is added to lunch to drive internal heaters in anticipation, in case "warm" doesn't turn out to be so.

Jan and I hike in rainpants, capes, umbrellas and trying various ways to keep fingers from freezing. Stowing poles in the pack and fingers in armpits works as does eating spoonfuls of peanut butter. Jan wears surgical gloves so she can keep using her poles.

Large raindrops are splashing in Mig Lake when we arrive. I splash in too. I'm already wet anyway. It is in fact warm. Sort of. I swim over to lilypads and watch stream rise. Getting out into the rainier air isn't warm, but laughter at the ridiculousness of trying to put clothes back on in now driving rain warms me from the inside. The peanut butter might be helping too. 
Mig Lake.  Time to swim!
The problem is I ended up dirtier than when I started.
Bridges and truncheons span streams and meadows. Two truncheons are brand new. A bridge is signed "YCC '73" which is probably the Youth Conservation Corps. Flagging marks where more work is planned. So much work by so many trail crews keeps these trails surprisingly free of standing water and mud. Thank you trail crews! I've done some basic trail maintenance through my two terms with Montana State Parks Americorps, but seeing the quality trail work here strengthens my resolve to learn and do more.
Thank you trail maintainers and builders!
 Jan and I find a campsite by Lake Susan Jane, just a few miles to the road. Two thru hikers set up nearby, having hiked all the way from Mexico this year. They talk about how ready they are to be done, how the days are so long but they have to finish. Since my legs feel the urge to break free and do more miles, hearing this helps me to stay true to my slowing down/ lollygaging objectives. I return to figuring out how to make the hours last. To inhabiting each moment for as long as possible.
Hang for the night.
I listen to the rain stop and start again, pinging on the tarp, then going quiet.

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