The second spot was the best, of course. It always is.
Aidan chose White Rock Lake for our anniversary weekend getaway. The idea was to remove us from the hectic pace of planning the JMT. We found a decent spot, but as usual, we checked out just one more, and the treeline opened, revealing the campsite of our dreams. Fire pit and flat tent site, plenty of room with private lake access. And plenty of wood. Everywhere.
We pulled our camping gear from the truck and opened it with the same child-like fascination as every time before.
“Mold,” Aidan said. We’d packed our stuff wet a month ago when we’d last been car camping.
“Rookies,” We mumbled. We totally knew better than this. Life, always bent on teaching us something.
We built a fire, sang songs, listened to music. Then the stillness settled in as the forest fell asleep. When Aidan went to bed, Sherlock and I climbed down to the water’s edge and sat for a long time. The moonrise kissed the clouds in the sky and their reflections in the water. I put my arm around my dog and laid my head on his strong shoulder. Perfection.
I woke slowy to the smell of coffee. I’d slept in. More Perfection.
We kayaked around the entire lake, winding around the carcasses of huge trees submerged so long ago. We explored the rocky banks of the lake. The dogs grinned, lying in the sunlight, wrapped in their bright orange life vests.
After a healthy dose of hot breakfast, we left camp again and hiked toward Mt. Lola. The wind tossed us here and there, and it got colder. We made lists…change batteries in SPOT, try new solar charger, bring big camera, bring earbuds for the phone, load music on the phone – Bluegrass, Country, Electro-swing, Carolina Chocolate Drops, always bring umbrellas, ditch the use-a-tennis-ball-to-stretch idea.
We were dirty. We were tired. We saw the top. I put on my brand new sweatshirt customized with Sherlock’s photo, and we pushed on. A young person’s voice turned our heads. A family out for a day hike caught us. They looked clean and chipper. We scrambled into a windbreak and signed the logbook at the summit.
“I found it!” Aidan shook a logbook in my direction, looking triumphant. He found the log entry from when he climbed Mt. Lola in 2006. Great discovery! I watched a ladybug crawl down my sleeve as I opened my beer. Adventure and exercise and beer. Yes.
An old, overgrown trail led us straight down the mountain’s spine until it faded away. From there, we slid through scree fields and snow patches, finally resting in a field of alpine flowers. We watched the boys sleep; Nelson in a patch of lupine and phlox, Sherlock splayed across indian paintbrush and lavender. We marveled at Independence Lake, swearing for the hundredth time that we will spend some time there one of these days.
We talked of the fortunate lives we lead as the campfire crackled and the aroma of fresh baked brownies drifted from the coleman oven. What a life. What a love. What an anniversary.