Bear Lake 1971

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Over the years I’ve kept journals, although not always consistently. But it seems to be a way for me to track my days, my existence,. It’s as if, by writing it down, I know that during these times I lived, I felt, I accomplished or didn’t accomplish. It’s also been a way of documenting history so that if I wondered when something occurred I have a reference. But being fallible, there are long periods of blankness, when I was too busy or too involved to take the time.

I’ve just read several from 1969-1971 and think there is another earlier one someplace in my belongings. But this is a good place to start. This is basically unedited. I looked through all the slides on hand and could find none of this trip.

September 2, 1971
“We drove out past Coffee Creek to the Bear Creek Trail. It was cloudy, showering now and then. WBear Lake camp sitee left the trail about 10:30 (had to check in at Coffee Creek Ranger Station). Ate lunch off the trail, after ditching our packs and walking down to a little creek. The trail got quite brushy and Bob and I began to get wet. Every leaf seemed to be waiting to dump its load of water on us. My new pack is very comfortable—I carried 30 pounds and Bob 40.

When we were getting close to the lake we passed through a little pitcher plant bog, which included a bear wallow. Here we met a couple on their way out. As we reached the lake we met another couple who seemed pleasant—she had long dark hair in braids, his hair was a little long and he wore a mustache. He said they’d caught some fish the day before and were going to try again. We went on around the east side of the lake, scrambling over rocks and through brush. I had troubles with my pack, which flopped around a bit—kept pushing down on my head when I crawled—my usual graceful method of rock climbing. We finally found a nice campsite—good view across the lake and out to mountains beyond. The lake itself is one of the prettiest we’ve been to: granite cliffs studded with brush and fir, very deep. We were cold, wet, and miserable. The wind was blowing hard; we were soaked to the waist, etc. Bob heated up water on his stove so we could have hot tea and a candy bar even before setting up camp.

I built a fire in the rocks and heated up water on the iron top that’s here. Dinner we cooked on the little stove. We went to bed early and wakened often during the night. Plastic over the tent top rustled in the wind all night.

This morning, Bob was still tired and cold so he slept in. After much struggle with wet, smoky, wood I got breakfast. After I’d cleaned up the dishes I left him a note and went up the hill behind here. There are a series of small benches rising up to the base of the final cliff. I had a marvelous time exploring. Several tiny creeks run through there and there were numerous little ponds in the granite and mossy miniature cliffs with tiny waterfalls trickling over them. The top pond was the largest and I disturbed some frogs there. I got back at lunchtime. It seems to be warming up this afternoon.

Yesterday, hiking in through the clouds and rain, the snowberry bushes were beautiful. Each leaf had a drop of water on it, which glistened brightly on one end while the rest of the drop shimmered, transparent, showing the green of the leaf through it.

Have been thinking about the children—we must get them on some trips. Bob was saying the thing to do would be to get them into one lake and just stay. (We began this a few years later, to a different lake.)

It’s so nice sitting here on the rocks in the sun—and so cold when a cloud goes over! There’s a chipmunk that lives nearby and he explores the camp frequently. He nibbled on the bar of soap last night.

Later—it’s after dinner now. The sun is still tipping the backsides of the spikey ridges around the lake. And it still covers the top of the bare-topped mountain off in the distance. An occasional puffy white cloud hazes its way across above us. We’re sitting by the fire, having consumed an enormous meal of bullion and beef stroganoff followed by chocolate pudding and tea.

We had our boots on the stone top, resting on the aluminum dishes, to try to dry them more. They got too hot though.

We’ve been watching a little bird scratching on the duff. It’s large sparrow size, streaky front, rusty tail and wings, gray otherwise. Scratches by hopping off the ground with both feet at the same time.

This afternoon I sat on a rock overlooking the lake for about 45 minutes. Beside me was a fireweed. Hadn’t noticed before that their seedpods are the same color as the flower and quite long and slender. Also saw Indian paint brush, buttercups and columbine. Chipmunks were gathering seeds and running in and out among the rocks.

September 3rd
About 6:30 pm. We had a very good day today after another rather sleepless night. The wind blew very hard till after midnight—apparently the last vestiges of the storm. About 11:30 I had to get up so Bob suggested that I take the plastic covering off the tent—it was flapping all over and making a terrible racket. Even with all the wind though there was bright moonlight out and not a cloud in the sky. When I got up this morning around 8:00 there was frost on the woodpile and on shrubs around the camp. By 8:30 the camp was in sunlight. I took a quick dip as soon as the sun hit our swimming area, which is at the foot of a big, glacial-polished slide.

After breakfast I fixed lunch and we made a rather late start for the area where I hiked yesterday. We planned to go to Little Bear Lake. Up near the top of the gulch we went left whereas, yesterday, I’d gone to the right. When we topped the ridge, about an hour out of camp, we could see Mt. Shasta to the east and right below us, Little Bear Lake. It is a beautiful little lake, much deeper and larger than we’d expected. Very dark green in the deepest parts. It took about ½ hour to scramble down to it. There are several good campsites in the trees near the outlet and one on a point above the outlet. The lower end of the lake is pretty well crisscrossed with fallen logs. It sits in a granite basin similar to that of Big Bear Lake but there is more vegetation and there was even a tiny patch of snow on the north facing side. The water was a little chilly for swimming but we ate lunch and waded some. The campsites were cleaner than most and we were very impressed with the place. On the way out we followed down the outlet where there is another lake—pond sized but deep with shallow areas where a child could play (Wee Bear?). We talked all the way back to camp about trying to get children there next summer.

We contoured around the granite slopes on our way out, coming into Big Bear Lake at the lower end. Said hello to our neighbors and then came on around back to camp. The sun is gone from our camp by 4:15 and from our swimming area by 4:00 so we got in a quick swim.

It has been so much warmer today—didn’t need jackets till this evening. Saw and heard Clark’s Nutcrackers over at Little Bear Lake. That little chipmunk is investigating us again. It must have had a good time exploring the camp while we were gone.

Tonight is our last night. Our tent is sitting next to a row of dwarf oak bushes—live oak of some sort. Near the entrance is a rather scraggly foxtail pine where we have hung our packs. The campfire faces the lake—that is, one faces the lake when facing the fire! There are many small mountain hemlocks scattered among the rocks, foxtail pine and an occasional fir. Most of our firewood is small dead branches which have fallen from the hemlocks, bark from big downed pieces of fir or hemlock in the talus piles, etc. Some of it is pink from a borate drop, which landed in the rocks. Around an inlet from us is an area about 50 ft. square where a fire burned—it has a ditch around it, which smoke jumpers dug, and there are four, old paper sleeping bags around our campsite which they left behind.

Sept. 5
We got back to Weaverville around 3 p.m. Cleaned up, went to the grocery store and then over to pick up the children from the grandparents. More about these special grandparents another time.

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