Lake Twenty-Two has a special place in my heart; It is not part of my top hikes, yet I have some dear memories associated to it and my first attempt this year was short-lived: tons of snow over the scramble part had my group decide to go back instead of following through and continuing to the lake nested in the cirque. Strangely enough, the first time I went to the Lake, about two hours from the trail head was in January 2010 and there was almost no snow at all on the trail, that must have been a warm year.
Last Sunday I decided to claim my own solitary glorious moment and hike my way up to the frozen lake, I knew there would be snow but I also knew, from recent reports, that I would be able to pass the scramble covered in snow. I had anticipated this hike for a few weeks already, it was going to be a Journey for me, a Journey back in time, a Journey to claim this place as mine again and a Journey it was.
For reference I recently played Journey, a video game that is more of a stunning piece of Art than the average game. In Journey, you incarnate a robed figure on a Journey toward the top of a Mountain, the whole game is an allegory for the cycle of life. Those who played this game will be able to relate to what I am going to write but I will try to keep it to what I experienced on a personal level.
I extracted myself from bed rather late that rainy day, gathering enough purpose and energy to claim my place in world of the living. I drove to the coffee shop near my house to pick up a coffee and went on my way to the Mt Pilchuck area while listening to my favorite podcast.
Arrived at the trail head, finally disconnected from the grid, a fine mist was falling on the parking lot where a few hikers parked earlier that morning. I departed in the mist, music in my ears and almost alone on the trail. The first hour or so of this hike is a gentle climb in the rain forest. Water was running down the trail at different points due to the spring meltdown and lost in my thoughts I walked past wooden bridges, moss covered rocks and to waterfalls running wild; gorged from the freshly melted water.
Some times I like to find syncronicity in situations, especially the recent weeks and that day was no different, and it occured to me for the first time since listening to Death cab for a Cutie , one of my favorites band from Bellingham, WA that their song “Bixby Canyon Bridge”
fitted particularly well with my situation that day and the one I found myself a year ago when I decided to move back to Seattle. This realization almost took my breath away; I had listened to that album hundreds of times since I discovered that band a few years back and many of their other songs have meanings for me.
The real meaning, of course, is not the one I read in the words I listened to that morning, the real meaning is that this song speaks about Jack Kerouak, the author of the road and one of the leaders of the beatnik generation, along with Ginsburg and Burroughs; prolific authors that I followed from New York to San Francisco in the past 4 years.
As I hiked my way up from the rain forest to the rocky part of the mountain where the snow still covered the trail, my journey intensified and my train of thoughts took me back in time to what I lived since I stepped in the U.S. As I advanced and climbed I was going back to the events that lead me to this very place, relived some with melancholy, most with joy and all of them with a sense of acceptance, the intimate understanding that these events made me a stronger person, helped me dig deep in the trenches of my foundations and evolve to a new state of being.
I finally reached what most hikers that day decided to take as the end of the trail, a big snowy, slippery and muddy part where the trail almost dissipated. Resolved to continue I carefully climbed my way up to the higher ground where the trail entered the cirque between the peaks. The snow there looked pristine and untouched and that is when Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ desert song
played in my ears. This particularly fitting song lyrics again resonated through the multiple dimensions of time and events living in me at that moment.
The Journey intensified as did the Fog, but it was time to let go of the thoughts, guided by the music I entered the desert part of the trail, the mountains where on each side and I followed the river leading to the lake, stepping in my predecessors steps but nowhere near anyone that day. This is what makes me want to camp in winter, those secluded places, silent and calm and the rumbling of the Thunder of the snow melting on the cliffs far away in the grey.
I continued as Yasmin Levy chanted in my ears about the Joy and the Pain
intertwined in our lives and finally faced the lake that I could not recognize from my last visit. The lake was almost completely frozen and covered in snow and the mountains invisible in the fog, the trail I took 2 years ago was 6 feet below me as I continued around the lake. The thunder sound of the avalanches far away was the only sound besides the water dripping besides me as I continued on the snow, not knowing if I was walking on the ice covering the Lake or the ground covered in snow.
As I marched forward, the steps of my predecessors became less and less apparent and I realized that I was reaching the end of the Journey while I heard cracking noises coming from the ice below me.
I put my backpack down and enjoyed the silence around me, starring at the Grey and what I could not see. I sat down in the snow, certain I was the only human being in the cirque at that moment and started meditating, bringing my attention to my breath and away from the snow rumble and water dripping around me.
As the moment overwhelmed me I was finally here, in the now.