The lake was in site but mostly iced over with little actual shoreline access. Seeing the lake but not being able to see where I could actually get to shore safely was torturous at this point. Like being thirsty after a long, hot day filled with sweaty, dirty manual labor and all you want is a tall glass of your favorite beverage, ice cold. Where the beads of condensation are slowly dripping down the side. Where you’re so dry, those drops refresh your hand as it holds the glass. You can see it just waiting for you, you can taste it, you can feel it but your waitress is taking those glasses to another table. I had to keep walking around the lake until I could find a spot to get to the water. I was focused, determined. AT LAST I found a spot! I headed straight down, nothing would stop me! These feet needed the sweet relief that only glacial water could accommodate.
I love the mental image of myself that I like to think others around the lake saw. A lone, barefooted, tattooed woman, accompanied by an all white dog, determinedly marching (hobbling is more like it) straight into that clear blue lake. And into that lake I marched! I felt like I was in one of those old cartoons where the character’s feet are literally on fire and they jump into some water and breathe a huge sigh of relief. The calm that ensues after that is unmistakable. I’m in the lake but it was too cold to stay in for very long. Probably about 15 seconds. But I made it!
I then proceeded to sit and eat one of the best lunches ever. I think all hike lunches are the best. The food really doesn’t have to be that great to be amazing at 5,000 plus feet above sea level after it took you 2 or 3 hours on foot to get there. I ate that pear like I had never eaten a pear in my life! As I sat on a rock by the lake, soaking up the sun, I watched my dog run around on the snow and drink from the lake, it’s all so peaceful and beautiful, beautiful beyond words. There are feelings in my gut and my spirit that there aren’t words for and I’m ok with that. Part of why I love hiking so much is that I get to be reminded of those wordless understandings with my spirit every time I’m out. When surrounded by the silent noise of nature, the pure air in a place where far fewer people go than those who don’t, it is a sacred experience. This is the hike lunch. This is why they are all the best.
Time for a dip in the lake! I was pretty intent on taking a swim while on the hike up but once I had put my feet in and cooled off a bit, I had second thoughts. Overhearing other hikers vocalize my thoughts with responses regarding the glacial temperatures didn’t help either. As I sat, I thought to myself, “Carrie, if you knew that you were never going to come back here, what would you do?” The answer…Jump in of course! Yes, it was cold, very cold, glacial in fact, but quite refreshing. It takes refreshing to a whole new level. My body felt cleansed and tingly (not numb). A hiker’s baptism! The feeling lingered for longer than I can remember. Good stuff.
Here’s me, after my dip in the lake (sometimes I’m not too skilled with my 35mm).
After my glacial dip, I let the sun dry my skin, packed up and headed back (with my Vibrams on). I gorged myself on trail mix and melted chocolate while driving down the switched-back mountain road (also a funny sight in my head). Made it home with a lovely open, raw feeling on the bottom of my feet and in my soul.
One of my traditions when leaving Mount Baker after a hike, snowboarding or whatever is to get myself an espresso at the Wake n Bakery. A great little coffee place with friendly service and an amazing array of delicious baked goods to tempt even my non-grain eating self to at least hover over. They also have a lot of merchandise you can pick up with their clever name and slogan “Get Sconed” on it. I highly recommend checking them out anytime that you’re on your way through Glacier.