Sequoia NP, Pear Lake 2018
Well, after trying to readjust to going to work every day, sleeping in a bed, and being indoors for so long each day after not having as much as sat an outhouse for so long, I cleverly decided I hadn't adjusted...and that life didn't feel right without a pack on my back...so I started dreaming of the Sierras. Looking at my upcoming schedule, my favorite time of October was all out, but the weather seemed great now and I decided to go. While staring at maps, I decided to ping an old trail pal and he was game for a trip to the mountains, so game on!
I've been keeping a list of trails; people I meet who tell me their favorite places while exchanging stories share some spectacular memories, so I am trying to visit them. When I started this list, I put on the first entry for myself...Pear Lake. I had been there a long time ago and had fond memories, but those memories had faded, but I never lost a subliminal drive to get back there to Pear Lake. After looking at all kinds of logistics, permit requirements, and that I had been on this same trail before with my pal and wanted to go again, it was decided...to Pear Lake we would go.
It's all walk up permits only now for the Lakes Trail, and I don't know if it was before...last time I was here there wasn't even a required fee! So I got in early on Friday, 20 minutes after the earliest time one could score a permit, and it was already a quarter full! But it gave me a great drive through the Giant Forest. I don't know what it is. Every time I do that drive, the first time I see a sequoia I smile like a child and start waving and saying "Hello!" Those trees are so beautiful, kings towering over their domain. Permit in hand, I headed back down into the foothills to the campground to do some work, get in a little hike partway up the Marble Falls trail (note...do this again fully!), and welcome my friend.
After a great sleep, coffee and breakfast, we broke camp and headed up to the Lakes trailhead. Last time we started up this trail years ago we were kind of in a bad way...my friend had a little bit of altitude sickness and thunderstorms rolled in, but this weekend was almost as perfect as mountain weather could be, clear blue skies and a windless afternoon. I already am happy being surrounded by the gorgeous smell of the forest, but this time without thunderstorms we head up the ridge trail (now The Watchtower trail? When did that get named?) and, after going up a ridge, there it is, an expanse of a V shaped gorgeous granite valley, domes and spires, large trees rooted almost unnaturally in spots of pure rock that seem to hang on in impossibility.
And the lakes, oh the lakes nestled in granite basins with water lapping right up to sheer vertical walls, so many beautiful lakes. I had forgotten how stunning Pear Lake is, the highest of them all, surrounded by 10000 foot escarpments. Sitting there with my friend, seeing the rock illuminated by the sunset, as he told me memories of the trip up the trail long ago that had long faded into the mists of time of my memory, I was awed. And wondered, what was so different? Why did I not remember this transcendence now overpowering me surrounded by this granite cathedral filled with fonts of water nestled in granite basins waiting to baptize all who come with the proper heart and right set of eyes?
Perhaps, before, I came here too young. Too green to appreciate things. Too focused on the goal of ascending to a high lake, punching through the rain, focused on the journey instead of the destination and the land. Lacking so much in worldly understanding to really appreciate how great the company my friend provided. Too youthful to think that shallow banter passed for the actual deep conversations that really happen between close friends surrounded by the wilderness. Too out of shape, perhaps, to even realize I was young.
Now I have seen Pear Lake again with more experienced eyes. What was, in youth, a pretty memory is now, with a greying beard, a place that fills me with awe; the land, the sky, the trees, the lakes, the greatness of the company I keep. I finally can appreciate all of it, and am humble, and thankful, and filled with joy.
Now I have seen Pear Lake again through a different lens. What before were the vacation shots of a tinkerer are now composed photos that try to capture the magic of this stunning landscape, too large and overwhelming for an image to ever convey. I came too young; now, perhaps, I've learned a little since then to let my camera share a bit of how beautiful this place is with others.
A place I've driven past so many times over all these years...that I forgot about...
Why did it take me so long to visit it again?
And, why, after all those years, am I still so bad at playing gin rummy?
I am reminded of what makes Sequoia such a beautiful place. I've spent so long listening to the trees sing that I forgot something I should have known all along. The mountains and lakes here sing just as strongly. I must visit them more often.
And it's made me appreciate again how speical it is to have a great trail pal to share beauty with, who makes times happy both in great conversation and in great silence. It takes a person with unique understanding of, sometimes, how important silence is, not just for connecting to one's surroundings, but also for connecting to themselves. Also having a trail pal with great patience and who is mostly always smiling! Such hiking buddies are nearly as unique as these mountains, they are few and far between. I am reminded that my life is special for having a few of them who are willing to entertain me to go to crazy places together. But life always takes your trail pals from you, and the trail somehow never seems quite as happy when you're alone.
Maybe, if I'm lucky, I can find or train a few more pals and take them back here to Pear Lake, this gem I'd forgotten about rising above the thrones of the kings of trees. I certainly won't forget it any longer and will be back again. Probably by then with older eyes and more aches in the knees, and most likely finding yet more brand new moments of amazement and reflection. True beauty is deep and complex and requires a lifetime of experience and understanding to gain even the slightest ability to reach out to it, open the curtain, and finally reveal how beautiful it really is. And to let the curtain slide back to hide it for a time, to eargly await that return to experience it again. To not only bask in that joy of rediscovery but also to uncover how you, the people you were with, and that special place you were in, have evolved into something newer, more beautiful, and something wonderful.
Picutres were from the a900 system with the 24-70 and 70-400 lenses.
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