Ever since my friend Becky told me that she had hiked into Moose Lake earlier this summer, the place has been on my mind.
And, the images floating through my memory lock box did not include the peaceful, pristine, lovely place we found yesterday afternoon.
Instead, they are dark images, literally.
It was a dark but not stormy summer night eons ago when more than 200 hungry horse folks plodded over the mountains, into the woods and down to some place known as Moose Lake where a sumptuous gourmet meal awaited.
I think we had ridden 20 or so miles that day along mountain ridges on narrow, nail-biting trails overlooking Lake Pend Oreille and sometimes into open, grassy spots where "seeing a man about a horse" or "whizzing," as some people call it, superseded modesty.
No tree. Full bladder.
Make the most of it and relieve yourself cuz, after all, ya gotta get back on that horse, ill-equipped with shock absorbers.
Well, it had been a pretty ride that day. Plus, thoughts of that delectable spread put out by the Hawkins family, who ran Hope's Litehouse Restaurant at the time and who sponsored the annual Lake Pend Oreille Trail Ride, were intensifying as we drew closer to Moose Lake a little later than many of us had anticipated.
My other images include Ed Hawkins, Sr. breaking eggs into a frying pan over an open fire after we learned that there had been some sort of trouble bringing the evening meal to our location.
The rest is murky. Of course, it's gonna be when it's dark. I don't even remember what we did eat or if we did or not and maybe just rolled out our sleeping bags and slept it off.
Anyway, that was the last time I have visited Moose Lake. Yesterday's visit offered no promises of gourmet meals, unless Costco peanut butter pretzel bits mixed with M and M's suffices or one of Bill's Nature bars.
We always carry along food, but food was not so much on our mind yesterday, 'cept maybe all those huckleberries along the trail waiting to be picked and some already picked by some strangers along the trail, one who soon became like an old friend.
Cuz there were more memories discussed when a considerate, generous Nancy Barker offered us her extra berry bucket. We had just passed her husband Paul when we heard the bells to scare the bears coming down the trail.
The couple had been out picking berries, and after we thanked her kindly for the offer, she mentioned something about her husband being a forester.
"So is mine," I chimed in.
Well, the flood gates of memories of Forest Service past gushed forth on that trail, especially when Nancy said her husband had worked on the Clark Fork Ranger district.
Names began to fly through the air, and, yes, Helen, I was gonna surprise you by just posting the photo and hoping you'd guess but changed my mind so I could tell the Nancy stories.
Nancy did remember Skip and especially remembered Helen, thanks to PEO.
The assortment of names discussed included Verna Mae and Jayne, who babysat Nancy's kids and the Parkers who lived near the Barkers and Jim Stark and Larry Stone and Tom Robideaux who has sold them all their cars ever since.
Early into the Memory Lane visit, Bill, upon learning Nancy's husband's name, pulled out his business card and told her he'd actually done forestry work on 40 acres of their land a couple of years ago.
By the time this conversation had ensued, Paul who had stepped aside for Bill and Kiwi just moments before was well on down the trail.
What a time we had during those few minutes, comparing notes and even discovering that our sons are both journalists. Their son Eric writes outdoors features for the Lewiston Tribune.
We really could have stood on that trail talking to Nancy for hours, but Moose Lake was calling.
So, off we went, reveling in the fact that we never know who we're going to meet on a trail. We met or saw several others and did have a brief conversation with the young couple from Spokane (both UPS'ers) who were at the lake to fish, pick huckleberries and camp.
Another large group came in, along with kids and dogs, and started a campfire.
I told Bill that attempting to use a BIF anywhere along this trail was just about as bad as those wide-open spaces spots from that trail ride years ago. People, some of whom we never saw faces, seemed to hustling about pretty much everywhere among the bushes and trees around Moose Lake.
None of that bothered us on this day because the serenity of that lake, the ease of the trail, Bill and Kiwi's brook trout catch and release and the pleasant scenery and visits we did have made for a wonderful Sunday outing.
And, seeing that big bull moose trotting down the road and up and embankment on our way home from Moose Lake wasn't bad either. Rather fitting, I'd say.
Happy Labor Day, and special gratitude to all the laborers who help us out personally during the year and to all who bring us the great American comforts which we sometimes take for granted. Hats off to all workers!
|I came upon this photo from yesterday's experience last night and thought: this is a keeper.|