Saturday, November 21, 2020

Threemile Lake Loop

Slowly, I walked past every enclosure, peering analytically at each forlorn sad-eyed inhabitant residing within. The godlike power of my pending decision weighed upon me, as my choice would autocratically decree by capricious fiat who would be loved in a happy home and who would not. Desperate pleas emanated from each container: "Pick me, pick me! I'll fetch!" "I promise to scratch YOUR belly!" "Oh whatever, I'm housetrained!" So hard to pick just one, you just kind of want to take them all home with you. But a decision had to be made. "Hmm.." I mused "I'll take this one". And that is the story of how I bought a brand new pair of Keen hiking boots. Initially, the boots were deliriously happy to be going home with me but may have changed their minds when on their maiden outing, they had to endure a bushwhack venture around Threemile Lake.

Life is good (so far!) for new boots

At the outset, I took it easy on the boots with a nice and easy stroll on the beach. As we hiked on the seashore under a deep blue sky with nary a cloud in sight, the sun shone brightly yet the temperatures remained pleasantly mild. It was low tide and the surf roared some distance from the wet sand I was walking on. The retreating tide had left behind a smorgasbord of ocean souvenirs for our perusal, mostly in the form of sea shells, seaweed, and driftwood.

Reindeer lichen thrived on the forest floor

At Exit 115A, marked by an obvious sign colored florescent yellow, it was time to leave the beach and hike up through forest and dune to Threemile Lake. The lake was not all that full of water and an exposed isthmus divided the long and slender lake into two nearly equal-sized bodies of water. Upon the lake's waters, the ever-changing caprices of a light breeze set wind zephyrs to whirling and cavorting in joyful abandonment like so many attendees dancing at a reggae festival. 

The north end of Threemile Lake

After sliding and striding down a steep sandy chute plunging from the lake's overlook, my boots made some kind of complaint about being filled with both sand and stinky feet. I could empty out the sand but just like my poor wife, the boots would have to suck it up and endure my putrid feet for the remainder of their lives. After perfunctorily pouring out the sand accumulated in the shoes, it was time for the bushwhacking segment of this hike to commence. However, the bushwhacking initially consisted of a mere walk along bare shoreline and was not at all rigorous.

"Your mission, should you choose to accept..."

The easy hiking made fairly quick work of the first of the two lakes, my progress startling ducks who took flight and landed elsewhere on the lake where there was less likelihood of incredibly handsome hikers disturbing their peaceful quackery. Things changed though, as I neared the isthmus cleaving the lake in two. Water pooled behind the isthmus in a series of bays and coves and I walked across one such bay that had dried out, the formerly muddy soil now cracked and baked by the sun.

Trust me, that is not terra firma!

Yikes! The soil may have been cracked like a tiled floor but underneath, the ground was as soft and gooey as caramel. So, in order to get around this disguised quagmire, a scratchy detour through thick brush was performed out of necessity. The bushwhacking became a tedious mano a mano mortal combat, making the remaining two miles or so of remaining lakeshore seem like a near insurmountable obstacle in my way.

A mile or so of fallen trees made this hike even "better"!

Things got worse on the second lake, for not only was there soft mud to contend with, but fallen trees blocked the way and I spent an inordinate amount of time and effort slithering through the tangle like the most ungainly and clumsiest hog-nosed snake ever. Except snakes don't wear new boots and on more than one occurrence I thought I might irretrievably lose said boots in the sucking mud. The banks here sloped steeply into the lake and my ankles were feeling the strain of the constant sidehilling as I walked. Additionally, it was getting to be late afternoon and when the winter sun ducked behind the forested ridge above the lake, it started to get quite cold. Whose idea was this anyway?

An agaric stands straight and tall

Perseverance and effort won out in the end, and eventually there was no more lake to bushwhack past and it'd be time to walk on a real trail. Once on the path, I hiked as fast as I could to ward off the increasing chill. But really, the trail leaving the lake was pretty steep as it climbed through the forest, so I didn't just zip along either. Occasional pauses for rest were supplemented by photography of mushrooms sprouting in the forest duff and moss on the ground.

A fading sun lights up a fading thimbleberry leaf

A short walk on gravel Sparrow Park Road closed this surprisingly tough hike off. At the car, I dug through the mud glommed onto my boots and located the shoelaces hidden within. After I removed my boots, they informed me they wanted to return to the store and take their chances with all the other lost soles. 

Shadow Man says "Look at my muddy Shadow Boots!"

For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

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