Weaver Lake Wilderness
Fresh air. The scent of pine and Earth, cool as I inhale. Green all around me in every imaginable tone, from leaf to moss. Wild ferns shaded at the feet of Sequoia trees. Mahogany bark. Larger than life masterpieces. Thriving and fallen, I am surrounded by life. Tiny pine cones crunching beneath the carved soles of my boots. I savored the scent of campfire smoke, the red embers glowing, the crackling and floating spark and ash. I heard my breath and I heard silence simultaneously. Water babbled as if it was dancing, naturally springing up where it pleased. Boulders soaked up the sun’s rays, smoothed over time, yet large enough to last one thousand lifetimes more. Stars gazed downward as I gazed toward them and their surrounding planets. Darkness was a midnight blue and the night’s silhouettes cradled my mind.
How grateful I am for each sunrise and sunset I am given with these two.
Toads sang in harmony nearby. A woodpecker happily made his presence known high above us. A duck floats in the shallows of Weaver Lake as we stand watching. The dog barks, echoing her voice throughout the valley, but the duck is not afraid. A woodchuck dashes away and turns back to release a short, brisk chirp while overlooking his habitat.
I'll take mine scrambled.
A buck approaches and stops us in our tracks. He is nearly too close for comfort as he saunters across our path. My wide eyes absorb every detail of this moment; the soft texture on his antlers, the tufts of hair at his feet, the slope of his back, the darkness in his eyes, his masculinity. I feel as if I recognize him. As his muscles and limbs move him forward each step, his stunning physique vanished into the wilderness before us. We stood, astonished.
We waded in the nude and swam to rocks that existed as islands where we pulled our bodies onto them to bask in the day’s warmth. We dug our toes into the muddy lake floor and shrieked as we sank. Clusters of dragonflies swirled and buzzed by. Trout leaped from the water sporadically. The dog dove into the glossy green and blue, splashing giant liquid drops into the air. Effortlessly she swam, paying no attention to the chill of the water. I saw her smile. I felt my heartbeat. It has been a long time since I have felt this free.
Our backpacking trip spent at Weaver Lake of Jennie Lakes Wilderness inside of Sequoia National Forest was brief, but it was exactly what I needed to breathe a little life into me again after the heartbreaking event that occurred just a few weeks earlier.
A backpacker's dream come true.
Duke, I wish you were there with us as a family. I could feel you at times, maybe even in the presence of that buck. Majestic Sequoia trees towered over us and we watched as Dutch ran through them. We could see her joy and her loneliness; it was tangible. Was she experiencing something we could not? How I wish I knew what you now know. Backpacking, camping, hiking, exploring – none of it will ever be the same without you. The wild was a place we saw you so very happy. Even though mourning your death is still a fresh, deep, painful wound, I want to make a promise to you. We will continue in your memory. For the incredible dog you were, for the incredible dog you left behind – we will go on in your name. I promise you this.