Ridge Lake

Latest adventure: hiking with Karen 7 miles into deep mountain country to experience the restorative element of otherwise inaccessible nature. We gained 2200 feet in altitude over the course of the hike, and I was feeling all kinds of powerful as we blasted past a couple of different groups of middle-aged men. Whenever someone got within shouting distance, we put on the gas and put a couple of switchbacks between us. There's nothing worse than someone loitering on your boot treads, and besides, I have a massive personal space boundary and in the wilderness you can just multiply that by ten.

The berries were incredible. The week before, while Christine was here, there was some talk of going to pick berries but it never happened. This excursion more than made up for that. We ate berries on the go, ate berries for breakfast with our oatmeal, and still filled a Nalgene with blueberries and huckleberries. I mean these danged berries were everywhere. When we first started coming across the salmonberries, I was careful not to take too much, but it was rapidly apparent that that would be completely impossible. Bears, hikers, fox, birds and Sasquatch could all eat themselves into a fructose coma and there would still be plenty left.

Right about the time I was feeling rubber-legged, we reached Ridge Lake. No solitude there, as it's a prime spot right along the Pacific Crest Trail, but there was room for everyone. As fate would have it, we picked a spot right next to Karen's new "dear friend" and his hiking partner, who were through-hiking to Stevens Pass. We had partners for cards and extra people to help us eat our Spam. Don't laugh, now. Spam is an essential element of a quality backpack trip. Fried salt, mmmm.

Best moment: a pumpkin-sized moon climbing up over the east ridge.

Worst moment: hobbling with gritted teeth the last mile back to the car while Karen still pranced along like a fucking blacktail deer.

Made me want to: go again. It occurred to me as I agonized my way through the final stretch that hiking is like childbirth: you forget the pain. It's the elation that remains.

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