We were lost, not for the first time on this trip and not for the last time that day, but we weren’t really lost. We had a map and a compass and a pretty good idea of where we were and where we needed to be even though the trail we’d been on had led us astray. We took a moment to study our situation next to this glass lake, its mirrored surface only being scuffed by the occasional splash of sunlight filtering through the trees behind us. The pristine reflection of our lake, courtesy of the calm nature of the morning, echoed our own state of being. It was early, we didn’t have too far to go, and we would make it there eventually.
We did, of course, make it to our next destination. After taking our bearings, finding some landmarks we could match up on the map, and determining the most likely way to the correct trail, we headed cross country in search of it. The gentle rise of the hillside between the layers of lakes was accepting of our meandering and we found our correct path exactly where we knew it was supposed to be, without ever really determining how we had missed it in the first place. The unsolved mystery was just part of the adventure of it all.
Two trails led to the same lake. We took one trail the day before when we were just out exploring the scenery, deciding the other branch must be our route out only to discover that they ended up in the same place. My feet have left their mark on many miles of backcountry trails and never before have I come across a trail intersection that ends up headed to the same destination. Making trails is hard work and it doesn’t make sense to waste that kind of duplicative effort and energy.
But there was a lot about this part of the wilderness that didn’t make sense to me. The trail signs always seemed to only be visible if walking one direction, and somehow that was always the opposite way from how we were headed, so we were always missing our junctions and having to backtrack. Sometimes the trail would just disappear and we’d have to scout around to pick up again in the absence of cairns or other identifying markers. And, then there were the instances of the cairns that led nowhere.
We missed this lake when we were supposed to hike by it, but then found it later when we went out looking for it specifically, though it took a long time and we nearly gave up. Then we found it again later easily when we were trying to get to a different lake and hadn’t intended to swing by it again at all. I couldn’t explain what happened. None of us could.
I had every intention of actually telling a fiction story this time, but then the truth came out again. Perhaps I’m just in a truth telling mood… or, perhaps the fiction is the fib that I’m going to tell you an untruth… Or, perhaps I’m just tired and still on the mend and none of this makes any sense to anyone but me.