Two miles above.
It felt like fall this morning. The clouds were pulled over the mountains, with cool rain throughout the night.
A couple of weeks ago, Lisa and I found ourselves on a new cut block opposite the gypsum mine. In places, between the trees, I spotted Lost Lake among the thick creek bottom. The mine is close and I wasn’t sure if it had been filled in. Our sighting was proof it had not.
I told Lisa my father, older brother and I used to fish Lost Lake, though not as much as Twin or Blue Lake along the trail below. Back then you had to walk in to all those small lakes.
Lost Lake was tricky to get to. Beavers dammed the creek and it was a maze of slippery logs and bogs to navigate to find the lake. Of course, the creek found a different path with high water each spring, new logs and trails had to be found and navigated.
My father explained to me, when I was a youngster, that it was called Lost Lake, because it was always difficult to find. Some years it couldn’t even be found, he’d say.
This would conjure in my mind a disappearing lake, only being there when it wanted to be found.
It was always a chore staying dry on those hikes to Lost Lake. A slip off a log or fording the creeks delivered my young self, wet to the crotch before casting a line.
This morning Willow and I set off to find the long lost, Lost Lake.
It was wet and the trail was overgrown. We slugged along and even though I had taken bearings from the cut block above, true to its name, I still had trouble finding the lake. When I finally did, we were off-course and entered the lake from the opposite side as the trail of my youth.
I had to laugh, I hadn’t slipped off a log, nor got wet crossing the creek, but was still wet to the crotch from walking through the thick brush. Willow was completely wet and tangled from being so low to the ground, yet happy as could be. We both were.
I had talked to my brother the night before. My brother, along with being a gentle soul, has a memory like no one I know, dates and names, places and events long forgotten are right on the tip of his tongue. I consider my memory good, but nothing like his. I always say, I’ve had seven concussions, a fractured skull and encephalitis; so a few things have been lost in the ether.
Still more trail.
When I told my brother I was heading into Lost Lake in the morning. He reminded me of Ernie Bryan’s old cabin/dugout on the side of the lake, with the flat rock out in front used for the table.
It came back to me then. My father told me he would walk the trail, in his youth, from Windermere to Lost Lake, and have fish supper with Mr. Bryan.
Sink or swim.
Mr. Bryan had a unique way of serving fish, my father would say, he didn’t clean them or take off the head. They were cooked whole and you ate the fish like a cob of corn, when you were done, the remainder, bones, head, and guts, were tossed in the fire. The story always made me squirm a little.
My father always laughed when he reminisced about his time at Lost Lake. I could almost hear him while I walked the shore. If he had been there he would surely have been digging in his pocket for something for Willow, maybe a few raisins or a fig newton.
Wet Willow looking for a bite.
Now there are clear cuts on one side of the lake and the mine on the other, still once hunkered in the bush, it hasn’t changed much over the years.
For the sake of history, it should be noted; Ernie Bryan trapped the Lost Lake, Tegart’s Pass area and located the present day Gypsum Mine. Bryan Mountain is named for him.