The Best Medicine – Pete Lake, June 2021

“Laughter is the language of the soul.” ~ Pablo Neruda

https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/pete-lake

Sometimes you hike to escape. You search for a path less traveled and delve deep into the wild in search of solitude, to cleanse your soul and renew your spirit. To remember how good and pure the world remains, just down the path, where our confusion has not yet convoluted it.

And sometimes you don’t have to search very far.

Sometimes it’s not where you are or where you are going that matters so much as who is walking beside you. Because people can cleanse our souls as well.

That cute little couple posing next to Mikey at the Pete Lake trailhead (pictured below) are some of the finest souls we know. I’ve known Shelb since we were five, practically lived at her house all through high school and went on most of her family’s vacations. Years have stretched out between us since then but there is something magical about a childhood friend. We know the truest versions of each other. The children we once were, before anything got confusing and we had to figure out how to find our way back to ourselves, and the things that matter most. It’s a gift to meet back up again here, at a place in our lives where we hold the same things dear, where our steps are more sure, and our hearts more pure. Where we are closer remnants of the girls we once were.

Mikey and I had the honor of taking Shelb on her maiden voyage into the wild and reuniting her charming Charlie with the woods he often traipsed upon as a younger fella. The snowmelt this year was late. And the temps were going to be off the charts for Washington, so we didn’t have a lot of paths to choose from. But we knew Pete was clear of snow and that it didn’t carry on too long or high or hard for a new kid on the block:) So, we packed up early on a Friday and headed into the timbers that would lead us there.

We properly introduced Shelb to the wild by making her wake before dawn so we could hit the trail by 6:30 a.m..
And Pete himself is such a handsome fella.
A noble group of WTA volunteers had the prime spot on the lake, but Mikey and I scurried around a bit and found this little gem just around the corner.
By 8:30am we had made it into our make-shift home and it was already feeling pretty warm.
So, we slipped into some fair weather threads and headed down to the water.
We had a cute little pit that peaked out at Pete and a short foot path to the water’s edge.
Later in the year, I think, this would be a rocky shore. But, Pete was filled to the brim so we made a valiant attempt to cross over the inlet of Lemah Creek to the small shore that rested on the other side. But, the water was so frigid it made your feet feel like they were going to combust. Mikey’s years with Wim Hof-ing got him across. But, the rest of us didn’t have have a chance.
So we shimmied on over to this sweet spot just down the lake, where some of us could dip our tepid toes.
And Mikey could take a polar plunge.
We did this a couple times throughout the day. Toting our chairs down the path to cool off in the water…
then back to camp to nap or chat…
or snack:)
This ancient artifact loomed above us when we were lakeside. Two trees, that shared the same beginning. It made me think of how good it feels to share the same roots with someone.
At some point a big group of boys couts shimmied up and made camp just beyond us. But, the rumbling roll of Lemah Creek allowed them the space to adventure and play while granting us the tranquility we had lumbered into the forest to find.
It was a long and languid day full of laughter and lounging.
And then it was dinner out(side),
and a night cap or two to close out the golden fade of a lovely day.
We slept late, for the wild, and woke to the warmth of another beautiful day.
A doe wandered through camp as we were packing up and the Scouts scattered in the trees behind us waited anxiously for our departure, excited to take over our prime lakeside digs.
And so we left, with lighter packs and full hearts.
Making our way back into a world less wild, maneuvering through the obstacles both physical and metaphorical with a little more assuredness and wonder.

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