It is 10am and cold. Cold in mid-August, not sure where to park, trailhead is packed. No matter, I make my own parking spot next to the giant Ponderosa pine tree that leans slightly to the left as though it might fall with the force of the wind in its branches, of which there are many. Ponderosa has friends: Douglas Fir, Cedar, Hemlock; there are smaller folks too, various shrubs I cannot name though I continue to call myself 'outdoorsman'. I, outdoorsman, have friends too, troops really. We unload and another Suburban full of boots—smaller folks, like in ours—unloads as well.
The various accoutrements of war are gathered: base layer, long sleeves, light coats, boots, then backpacks filled with water and apples and nuts and chocolate. First-aid materials, compass, knife.
Pose for a quick shot and off we go into the forest with energy to burn. We walk, we run, we jump and sing and take breaks for candy. Over bubbling streams we stride with a single step (single jump for smallers), then larger waters with single log bridges, then more complex bridges assembled from many small logs. The water roars over rocks and past tree limbs, pooling behind natural dams and logjams. The perfect place for brook trout.
No time to fish today though, we're on a mission to Lake Colchuck and won't make it if we don't keep pace—small legs, you know. All is earthy and damp soil, old wood breaking down in natural processes giving way to big fat mushrooms you're not supposed to eat. Rocks with moss and sunlight pepper bunchgrass and holly; we're surrounded by lush, low growth. It is wholesome.
There are more breaks and the occasional whines and, yes, tears from the youngers. But over the course of four miles, we all make it up two thousand two hundred and eighty feet.
We eat lunch and explore. Other hikers walk through as we enjoy a fine view of the lake and share in the wonder of creation and the knowledge of intent behind it all. Creation itself is less interested in the intent and more interested in our lunches. The tiny, fat chipmunks are courageous and daring and carefully plan precisely how they will steal our chocolate.
Clouds gather. We replenish our water and hit the trails again, this time in reverse. Down we go and for everyone it seems harder than the trip up. Whether from fatigue or the sadness of leaving, all begin to show signs of post-hike blues. But no matter; we're back at the cars and the lot is much clearer now. In we go to drive what seems only a moment into Leavenworth, WA for ice cream and beers. We only mourn the loss of today—we'll be back to Colchuck.
Recommendations: When in Leavenworth don't forget to hit up Icicle Brewing for a Bootjack IPA. If pizza is your fancy, pop into Idlewild Pizza for a fantastic wood fired feast. Best burgers in town are at Fresh Burger.