The morning we were going to leave Lost Creek I was outside washing the soup pan from the night before—on the wooden table—when a man came up with a coffee mug in hand and asked whether we had any hot water. I didn’t have any heated but told him I’d heat some for him. He and Tom chatted while I did that and then poured it into his cup where he had powdered hot chocolate or something. After he left we ate instant hot cereal for breakfast, topped by a banana. Then I crossed Lost Creek to look at some birds—yellow-dumped warblers, juncos, and chickadees–before we both walked up the dirt road that went through the trees behind us. It was blocked by a locked gate but we’d been told it eventually arched the Rim road. We just wandered along looking at deer tracks–I’d seen
two disappear when I went across the creek. We turned back shortly and were then
startled by the approach of a pickup behind us—two park rangers on patrol. They told Tom that elk are common further up the road.
Our next stop was an RV park at Diamond Lake. Tom had asked for a site near a restroom since we have never used the one in our trailer, using the space for closet/pantry. They did give us a site near a restroom—but it was locked. Oh, well. Our camp had a concrete pad with picnic table (rather decrepit but quite functional) and benches, electric hookup, and standpipe with water. If we’d wanted it there was also a sewage hookup. We were at the bottom end of Loop C with no one on our downhill side, which we appreciated. Yay, privacy on that side. We could just see a bit of the lake through the lodgepole pines and across the highway. A spruce, a hemlock and a red fir were at one end of the pad. There was a fire ring at the other end. Our restroom and shower building was several hundred yards away, up a slight hill. I bought a newspaper at the RV office so we could catch up a little on news and read the weather forecast. Later I worked on a crossword puzzle from the paper. Tom chatted with the neighbor on our uphill side while he did some work on his bike.
It was cold in the mornings and this first day, as the sun got higher, I practiced some tai chi outside, looking toward the lake.
There were yellow-rumped warblers here in addition to chipmunks, a burr-cutter (Douglas squirrel) and a golden-mantled ground squirrel, which seemed to live under the concrete slab.
A paved trail encircles Diamond Lake. We rode the trail a number of years ago (11-12 miles) and this first day we decided to ride it again. It would give Tom more practice for his riding at the Rim and both of us practice exercising at 5,000 feet elevation. So off we went. This is a really pretty area and, at this time of year, not at all crowded. The extensive campgrounds (240 USFS sites) were mostly empty and very few people were using the trail. The meadows we passed were turning a light gold and wild blueberry leaves were turning red. Mt. Bailey forms a backdrop for the lake, rising to over 8,000 feet.
All went well until we reached a fork in the trail. I’d dropped behind a little when I stopped to take a picture but I’d soon caught up enough to be able to see Tom’s green shirt just a short distance ahead. He was nowhere in sight at the fork though. There was a small wooden sign that said “Road ½ mile” straight ahead and “Lake Loop” to the right across a nice little arched bridge. The creek was wide, shallow and quiet, quite lovely. Later we learned it is named Silent Creek!
Our plan, as I understood it, was to ride around the lake so I took one more picture and crossed the bridge. I pedaled rapidly thinking that I would soon catch up to Tom and was surprised he was going so fast. The trail headed uphill through the woods and wound around some fairly sharp turns. There were pine needles along both sides making the visible paved part rather narrow. The alternating sunlight and shadows meant I had to stay alert. Plus chipmunks kept darting across and I really didn’t want to hit one. Finally the trail emerged from the forest and crossed a road, then meandered along the lake again, at one point going between fireweeds, mostly gone to seed, that rose above my head. I soon came to more open places and stopped where there was a sandy beach and a great view of Mt. Thielsen (an extinct shield volcano with a horn-shaped peak). We hiked the Mt. Thielsen trail when we were here before but didn’t attempt the peak.
At this view location there were two men resting in the shade on either side of the trail. One man was lounging in the shade in a canvas chair reading, the other sitting on a log with his two dogs nearby. I asked whether they’d seen a man in a green shirt. “We’ve been here an hour and no one has gone by,” said the man on the left. “He must have taken a different trail.”
“Oh, great,” I said, hoping my spouse hadn’t run off the trail someplace and been injured. I took a photo of the mountain, ate half of my granola bar and drank some water. My odometer showed that I was about half way around the lake so it would be just as quick to keep going rather than turn back and still maybe miss him.
“Well, if he comes by would you tell him I’m going back to our campsite?” I paused, thinking ahead. “At the very least there will be some kind of fight.”
The man on the left said, “I’m sure you are in the right.”
“Thank you,” I smiled, and started pedaling.
As it turned out I got back to our site almost an hour before Tom did and had time to change my clothes and eat some cheese, salami and crackers, saving half of what I’d fixed for him. I thought I’d wait one more hour and then, if he weren’t back, notify someone. About then I looked up and saw his green shirt up the hill at the office. Whew! There were a few words but food seemed to resolve the situation. It turned out he hadn’t seen the signs at the bridge and had gone straight ahead while I’d turned right. He’d done some riding on the road and then returned to the trail and come back the way we’d gone, looking for me. It was funny afterwards, but a bit worrisome at the time. Wine with dinner that night!