14 August 2008

Diablo Lake

"I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling."
- Jack Kerouac, "The Dharma Bums" (1958)

We're a couple weeks away (Oct. 2) from the 40th anniversary of the formation of North Cascades National Park Complex here in Washington state. My own 40th is coming up in December, and PN's 40th was just celebrated (wildly) last Friday night. Interesting timing then, that found myself, PN, and RJ camping last week in a small corner of the NCNPC, nestled up in the mountains, just off the shores of Lake Diablo.

Just a few hours from Seattle, up the beautiful, scenic State Route 20 (the North Cascades Highway), the Park is a wilderness wonderland - kept so pristine partially by the fact that it has just the one highway running through it (good work there, Park people!) We weren't too far from Desolation Peak, on the far side of Ross Lake, where Jack Kerouac sat watch in the Forest Service Fire Lookout Station back in the summer of 1956 - producing the stories in "The Dharma Bums" and "Desolation Angels."

It was a brief, but much-needed respite from the city grind that all three of us love, but at the same time need to distance ourselves from now and again. To regroup. To reset the counter back to zero. To sit near a noisy creek in the dark of the night, the tall trees surrounding you, a million stars overhead, the smell of pine and fresh air - it brings you a little bit back into balance. It heals some of the aches and pains of living. It is a salve for the psyche. We camped for three nights, got in two nice day hikes (one to just below the appropriately named Pyramid Peak), and I swam in the chilly, glacial Diablo Lake - it's hyper-blue/green waters reminding me of the river Inn winding through Tyrol in southern Austria. Burgers and brats were grilled, much beer consumed, labyrinthian conversations woven around the fire pit, and once again a bit of tequila was passed around. We also had Guatemalan cigars to celebrate the recent addition to RJ's family - the wonderfully named Ziya Zappa. 
With all the beer & tequila, the cigars were a bit much and went right to my head. I quickly had to revert back to the liquid barley. No one's soul melted this trip, but the rejuvenation of the spirit was certainly felt by all three.
KJT - Diablo Lake & Pyramid Peak, North Cascades National Park Complex, WA (2008)

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