Ruffwork left about 20 minutes from Charlton Lake before I did, and I never saw him again. Shortly after leaving Charlton Lake, there is a large burn area.
It is quite amazing to walk through the burn areas…though the trees are ghostly skeletons of white and black, there is new life bursting through, and it gives one pause to contemplate the natural cycles of destruction and renewal. It’s heartening and gives a sense of peace to know that this cycle has been going on for all eternity and is actually a necessary part of regeneration and perpetuity. The burn areas have their own sense of beauty, quiet and peace that though different from the forest is as equally intriguing. Spiders have floated webs, bugs are busy at work, bees are zooming by, and
here and there a bird shows up. There is life everywhere, even where it looks like there might not be. This is the one thing that is so reassuring to me – though humans may desecrate the entire planet someday, they (we) will not be able to stop this thing called life. In the end it is ourselves we threaten, as Mother Earth will rejuvenate again and again.
When I rounded the trail to Brahma Lake I thought I had arrived in Nirvana. It soothed my soul to look at it and I immediately went over to a clump of rocks along the water’s edge and plopped my pack down, took my shoes off, jumped out of my clothes and swam “a la natural” in the delicious water. It was nothing short of Divinity itself. Refilled my Platypus with water and sat in the sun sucking on an 85% dark chocolate bar and dried sour cherries!
Finally I had the sixth sense that people might be coming, so I reclothed and packed up and sure enough, a group of four came along heading south, just as I was walking back to the trail. We visited a few minutes and then we both set off in our different directions. About a quarter mile north of Brahma Lake I met “Solo” who is headed south, doing the entire PCT from north to south, which is not common. One must leave later in the summer when the snow has melted in the north, and hope to pass the California Sierras before the new snows fly. He was happy to hear about Brahma Lake and it sounded like he might take a little dip there himself.
Heading north, I passed Jezebel Lake, then Stormy Lake which was very pretty. Later came Blaze Lake, and then Cougar Flat, which is not a lake and sounds like perhaps someone sighted a cougar there at one time. I began to
think about cougars and my active imagination started getting carried away with itself to the point where I kept looking behind me and to the side at the embankments above me, etc. Finally I told myself to quit being fearful and I focused on something different: Tadpole Lake.
When I arrived at Tadpole Lake I went right down to it to soak my feet, and was totally astounded by the hundreds of baby frogs jumping away from my feet! They are barely half an inch long and they are thick in the grasses everywhere! Upon seating myself on a log at lake’s edge, there were the largest tadpoles swimming in schools all over the place! And some of the tadpoles had already grown legs! What an incubator this pond is! There seems to be no lack of healthy frogs at this location, many frog-studying scientists would be happy to know.
The last four miles to Cliff Lake, where there is a Shelter, were painful – my feet are in agony! Though the boots are long enough now to not squish my little toes, there is some slippage apparently from front to back and now I have an amazing row of blisters right beneath all my toes on my left foot. The boots don’t breathe well, the socks seem too thick, and the feet are too hot and too tight and just screamingly uncomfortable.
There were several more lakes to pass before arriving at Cliff Lake and they were all beautiful, but due to my pain factor I didn’t stop long to gaze upon them – I just kept trudging on until I finally came upon Cindy and Ron and their dog Pepper, and they kindly showed me where the trail going to Cliff Lake was, as there was no sign there for the shelter or the lake. It was only a few feet past where I met them, and it turned out that they were already camped there, having been volunteering as trail crew for the last several days and were now on their break before starting to trail crew on the next section further south.
I immediately went swimming (with suit) and basked in the sun and ate more dark chocolate and dried sour cherries, my personal reward for accomplishing so many miles so well. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon with some clouds building to the southeast. They looked as though they might like to rain but they were still too far to the south to have bothered the remnants of the glorious day.
After setting up my tent, another PCTr strode in – “Fireman”. We visited and
then he too went swimming. That evening we sat around Ron and Cindy’s campfire until I was finally too tired to carry on, and went to bed. It was another difficult night of sleep for me, as Cindy has a bad lung rattling cough that went on throughout the night. But in the end I slept fairly well, compared to the night before. Cliff Lake is a stunningly beautiful lake, and it was a wonderful evening of human company amid Nature’s beauty.