Monday, July 23, 2012

A Trip Fit for a Queen

Bastille Day was upon us and, though Suzanne was not addressing us in French and Nicole had not packed a bottle of French vin in her pack (though she certainly could have, considering what other items she had packed away), we were at least ascending to a place amongst royalty: Royal Basin in the Olympic National Park. As we hiked up along Royal Creek, the air was quite humid, as though we already were donning our impermeables, with perspiration dripping from our brows.

After lunch in an open, rocky meadow, we began to get glimpses of the surrounding peaks and the wildflowers were more prolific. A few more water crossings over creeks, streams and small torrents of melting snow and we had arrived in the lower basin. We headed for the group camp just past the lake, a few of us noting the lake entry spots for a later visit and set up tents, filtered water and changed into reasonable shoes.
Royal Lk and silly boy swimmers

Tim and I re-visited the lake and, after christening myself in the cool yet very comfortable water, I dubbed the lake "The Queen's Bath". I had to share my bath, however, first with Tim, then with three boys who had donned swim trunks and goggles and were making their swim look like work, chugging around the lakeshore.

While we frolicked in the water, Linda, Denise, Jay, Nicole and Suzanne headed up toward the Upper Basin, quickly finding snow but also friendly marmots and waterfalls. I met up with them as they made their way down and, once they left, had a private photo shoot with a resident marmot. I think he was trying to ask for a referral to a dentist.
returning from the upper basin

Back at camp, we all cooked our respective dinners. Some, like me, chose minimalist approaches, using ziploc bags and hot water. Others, like Nicole, who had bought ears of corn en route to the trailhead, were shooting flames 3 feet into the air, boiling a cauldron of water and feasting like a queen. Good thing there was a composting toilet not far from our camp!

our visitor at camp
The morning found many of us awake and wandering around the meadows, trying to spot more wildlife than just the deer who had been stalking our camp. Although it was clear when we first woke, the fog rolled in from the lower end of the valley like smoke from a campfire far below. We kept hoping it would burn off or dissipate, but it soon became thick and unmoving and brought with it some moisture. Hiking down the trail, I lingered, falling to the back of the group, soaking in all the shades of green and admiring the flowers.

Royal Lake in the still morning

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