Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hiking with Heart

Two years ago, my dad informed me that he wanted to spend his 60th birthday at Big Heart Lake with his kids.  To those of you who think this means a drive and some camping, let me assure you that it is not that simple.  Ten miles up, and ten miles back down.  I remember saying that it sounded like a great plan if I wasn't pregnant or nursing (which has made up most of the last seven years of my life).  Dad replied, "That's why I'm telling you now."  The man was serious.

The birthday arrived and so did the hike.  These two fellas stuck with me, the slow-poke, for the whole hike.  My sister-in-law, Alyse, also walked with us most of the way, until we caught up with my brother, Troy, and their son, Asher, who had gotten an early start the day previous.  A great group.
I am not a very experienced hiker, but this is my dad's favorite hike, so I think I've done Big Heart at least  four times now.  At the point along the trail pictured below, we pause every time to look up the waterfall (that white stripe going up the middle) and say, "That's where we're headed."  It always looks so high and far.  Even more so than in the picture.  And guess what?  That's not even the end of the day's walk.
We cross over a few falls on our way.  See that bridge behind my brother?
This is me on that same bridge.
And here's the view from it!
Isn't that beautiful?  I think that landscapers try to recreate that kind of thing in unnatural places, but they will never pull off what I saw on the hike.

Here is a view of the valley we hiked through from the top.  The car was way, way out there somewhere.
After arriving at the lake, we set up camp, ate, and went to sleep.  Nick does not think much of hiking because he doesn't like sleeping on a skimpy pad on the ground in a tent.  As I lay there trying to sleep and thinking that the pad I slept on reminded me very much of a rock, I realized that NO ONE likes sleeping on a skimpy pad on the ground.  But we do it anyway.  It's part of the cost that buys you the rest of the experience.

Here we all are, a little more chipper the next day.  That's Asher on the far right.  He is only five years old!  What a champ to hike all the way up!
If you can overlook my lack of access to a shower and mirror, isn't this a beautiful picture?  They call this area the Alpine Lakes, and for good reason.  It reminds me very much of my travels through Switzerland eons ago.  The weather was perfect, but getting in that water past my waist took more courage than I had that year.  The top twelve inches were really cold and the rest of the lake was positively hypothermic.  There are patches of snow all around the lake, keeping the fish happy, the water clear, and the people out.
On the second day, we always day-hike around the lake without our heavy packs.  We like a particular trail (if it can really be called one) that takes you to your hands and knees, climbing and crawling up a rocky mountain face.  As Jared, Dad, and I were struggling to determine the best route, I happened to look around and Asher had simply floated up to where we were.  Kids.

You can't tell from this picture, but we're standing on a large rock far above Big Heart Lake, overhanging the water.  It has been ten years since we were here last, but things really don't change much.  This is one of the greatest view-spots I've seen.
In this picture, I am looking down at the lake from our camp.  If you look very, very closely, you will see Alyse and Asher in the middle of the logs on their way back to camp.
I can see why this is my dad's favorite place.  And I am resolved to get him to Switzerland.
The hike up had been laborious, but bearable.  The hike down was soooo much easier.  We woke with the sun (no one even had a watch), and made it to the car by 12:30.  Upon seeing our escape vehicle, my brain must had told my muscles that they were done, as I was in quite a bit of pain before my dad had even found the key.  Although I got through that within a few hours, my legs were pretty sore for the next three days.

Would I do it again?  Already planning on it.  See you in a couple years, Big Heart.

1 comment:

Our Ohana said...

I love your dad already! That looks like such an awesome, hard-core hike! I would love to try it sometime! Will you take me up if I come visit you?! It looks like heaven.