That was 34 years ago, in 1966. I was 18 years old. As I write this, 34 years later, the memory of Log Lake is immediately fresh.
We reached Log Lake in the afternoon, after a long day’s hike, down from the camp to the creek, then up the moutains on the other side, winding up a steep trail through rocks. It owned its own small valley, invisible from anywhere but the high peaks above it. There was a meadow on the west side, a few trees, good sleeping spots, and good rocks and old logs for cooking and eating. On the east side the rocks rose through boulders and snow patches, very little green, up to peaks above it. We arrived in the afternoon, cooked dinner and slep, and the next morning I woke up before anybody else, shortly after the sun hit my sleeping bag, and jumped into the lake. I had braced myself for an icy, painfully cold mountain lake, like an electric shock that takes your breath away. Instead, it’s temperature was so much better than icy that the memory was engraved, and lasts. It wasn’t warm by any means, but it was no colder than the brisk temperature you’d expect from a country club swimming pool in August.
The moment was so right I would have had to search, like an intellectual exercise, for something wrong with it. Years later, I’m guessing that the only thing I would have come up with was that my summer at Unalayee was going to end.
I was at that point about six weeks into an eight-week stint as a counselor at Camp Unalayee, a non-denominational coed summer camp located high in the Trinity Alps, on a meadow next to a Mosquito Lake. I loved the mountains, like the kids, liked the other counselors, liked the management, and generally just enjoyed the hell out of who I was, where I was, and what I was doing. When I looked ahead, it was back home with my parents and siblings in Los Altos for a couple of weeks, and then off to in love with the mountains, and spending a whole summer up in , There was nothing, but absolutely nothing, wrong with life at that moment, and everything right.
I’ve always assumed that Log Lake was that much warmer than normal because it was small, shallow, and surrounded by rocks. It must have been warming up during the days. I don’t know that, and it doesn’t make sense that it had snow patches just a few hundred yards above it; but they were small patches, probably not draining all the way down to the lake in August.
This particular memory is akin to paradise. Log Lake is a beautiful alpine lake, with the complete ingredients of the perfect Sierra Club calendar photo: the peaks above it, the granite sculptured by glaciers, the small snow patches, the meadow just below itnot a particularly well-known landmark, I’ve never seen a picture of it published anywhere, never even heard of it since. specimen of Trinity Alps alpine landscape,
I crawled out of the bag.
from the other side rise steeply out of the creek’s valley into a deep valley with Tangle Blue Creek running down its bottom. We could only see the steep drop of the Beyond the valley, the moutain rose up other side rose up I couldn’t see it at the bottom Beyond the valley, the mountains rose again up to sharp gray peaks, gray and black, brightened by the morning sun on glistening granite, and, in their shadows, sparkling white small patches of snow. To the left of the truck, a steep slope rose up in the same sparse, granite landscape, broken by trees. This was in the Trinity Alps, in Northern California, in 1966.
In the back of the truck, I held on to the staked sides as the truck reeled back and forth. Across the valley, nestled deep in the sides of the peaks across the valley was a lake I’d been to, Log Lake just a few days earlier, on an overnight I clung to the back, reeling as the truck jerked back and forth. , happy, tired, lost in my own thoughts. Across the valley, nestled amoung the peaks, was an invisible lake, I was one of maybe a dozen people holding onto the wooden staked sides of the truck”Tim, you’ve got a beard,”
A couple dozen people hung on in back, most of them clinging to the high fence-like sides of the truckIn the back of the truck, a couple dozen people hu, . The pwoplwback of the truck held
through the Late August, 1966
On the truck on the way back, it was bouncing, dirt road, a couple dozen young conselors in the back of the kind of flatbed truck, wood stake fence up the sides, that you’d expect to see carrying a load of hay, vegetables, or pigs. It jerked back and forth, reeling from one side to the other, with each rock or hole in the dirt track it followed through the Trinity Alps.
Patty, one of the older counselors — she was at least 22 —