Lost Lake is the reason we started backpacking as a family. It has been the goal I’ve been edging us towards for the past few years. Luckily, along the way, we’ve gathered families we enjoy backpacking with, so it all came together in a splendid clamor of bodies this summer.
I’d love to know the native name of this area because here’s what bewilders me—why name a place you’ve found ‘Lost’? Oxymoron anyone? Except oxymorons do it for a purpose, to emphasize a meaning. So, I went looking at the meaning of ‘lost’. Unable to find one’s way is the most obvious definition.
Well, although the trailhead took a minute to locate, we found the way quite easily and followed it into the woods, passing large trees in all sorts of stages of living and dying.
Another definition then—lost: no longer visible. It was certainly the case that this trail climbs and as your feet follow it up, legs burning under their burdens, along with your footprints, the great trees fall away behind you, lost. Then you break out into the sunlight and the stunted hemlocks (I think!) hold your hand for while.
Ah, the first five miles are pretty brutal for folk like us—that’s a lot of uphill!
And then, just when you’re ready to tackle the steps before you, you look back and realize that the past is laid out behind—all the way down to Kenai Lake where we camped the night prior (just that dab of blue between the break in the trees).
Perhaps that is what was meant: taken away or beyond reach. After that grade and with the knowledge of how much still lay before us, Kenai sure did seem beyond reasonable reach at this point.
The littles slowed down quite a bit as the terrain became hilly and broke out the whining. The dads and those with bigger kids wisely put some distance between us.
They did come back to take the little girls’ packs for the last hill and had started setting up camp. We chose a spot off to the left of Lost Lake proper, before crossing the bridge. It turned out to be a gem for such a crowd. There was a bear box and an open pit latrine (voted best toilet view yet).
Lost: not made use of, won, or claimed. That was one definition of lost that did not apply to this group and the water. We swam in the river, the lake we camped next to,
and then walked over to Lost Lake and spent the afternoon.
An evening of games and supper just about about did everyone in—except the teenagers, who, with their lost (no longer possessed) sense of foresight, watched the sun ‘set’. I know you can argue that they never had it, but the ten year olds figured out they were tired so…
We had left ourselves a day in the middle to play and explore, which was good because I’m pretty sure there would have been a mutiny or child abandonment (or both) if we hadn’t had a rest day. But the next morning was go time, and although we tried to get out early, when the sun doesn’t set, it doesn’t cool down too much. So we were hot.
We had already started out when my son realized he’d left a shirt drying on the bushes. I didn’t want to turn the whole crew around or make them wait, so I told him to forget it. His face crumpled and we realized he would be lost (lacking assurance or self-confidence) without it. His kinder father told him to drop his pack and run to grab it; he’d wait.
Can you pick him out tearing along the low ridge line?
While the rest of the line snaked on.
The two of them weren’t gone for long,
And before I quite realized it, he’d overtaken me; left in the dust.
Soon it was farewell to the lake as the trail behind us swallowed up the hours.
This ended up being a quieter section as the long slog—
in the relentless sun, had most of us lost (absorbed, rapt) in our own thoughts, just trudging.
The sea! And if you squint you can see Seward! It was still a long way down, but when you can see the end, it seems more possible that you will reach it.
We stopped for lunch and then headed down, into the trees again.
This day, with its heat and long mileage (7 miles), became hard to bear for the youngsters. We gradually became separated because everyone just wanted to reach the end. The six year old decided it was a lost cause; i.e. hopelessly unattainable and was a delight to hike with. The two year old on my back joined in here and there in joyous protest.
I wish I had been more present here as it was beautiful—if there had been buzzing insects, it could have been the tropics with how lush and green it is. Oh wait, there were. The horse flies were horrid on this end! If it had been humid…
Luckily we started to find salmon and blue berries, whose presence was not lost on us, wasted, not appreciated. In the end, I can honestly say that it lived up to my expectations and indeed, none of Lost Lake was lost on us.