The purest experience of the whole trip was the craziest (?) and most spontaneous one.
We leave the trail from Cinder Cone only to bump into our friendly ranger at Butte Lake, gazing over the calm water and the glass field surrounding it.
“Can we swim in that lake?” a question sounds in the evening quiet.
“Well, y’ can, if y’ve got ‘e guts t’ do ‘t. ‘s freezin’, ladies!” is the answer which we have to think about a bit longer to be able to decipher the message it has. Learning proper British English in schools (not that I am able to use it anymore after year and a half spent in the USA), the strong accent and vague pronunciation make his speech sound like some almost alien language.
So, we can swim in that lake but basically, we’ll probably freeze to death. These are the conditions we agree to as our bare feet walk on the black powdery sand on the shore of the lake about ten minutes later, while the sun has already disappeared from the sky and the only source of light is the red and orange clouds.
The water is perfectly smooth and mirrors the evening sky, we can’t see behind the glass-like surface. The imagination runs wild; what might be living in the depths?
The moment a light wind runs across the lake and a small ripple goes all the way to my toes and makes my feet wet, I tend to regret I have ever asked that question about swimming in here without further thinking about it.
But everything is just too perfect right now. My freezing toes, the shivers that run up and down my body in the cold evening breeze. The quiet, the dark slowly swallowing up the whole place. The fact that we are in the middle of a forest land, surrounded by thousands of trees, some volcanoes and probably about hundred bears trying to gain as much as possible before the first snow comes (and that is rather early).
I let all this just soak into my mind. It gets as smooth and calm as the water I am about to get swallowed by. And in that moment of nothing, that moment of perfection, I let my body just… do it.
The coldness surrounds me, goes all the way to the very core of my bones, my skin feels a bit like if it was burning in the shock. My mind that wanted to protest once more goes completely blank.
There’s no time.
There’s no space.
There’s no me.
The only thing there’s is some kind of feeling of unity, I would say. That’s the closest word to the state that is too elusive to be described in something so bounding like words.
I float on the surface of the lake and out of that state of mind to see Ella standing there with the water reaching up to her knees, with a mildly shocked expression on her face. Or maybe it is just the look of suffering, I don’t know.
“C’mon, you can do it! It’s perfect!” I encourage her as she slowly pushes herself to do another step.
At the end, even Ella swims for a bit but when I get scared of a branch which I swim into, she laves the water ASAP and declares this to be enough for that evening. I agree and swim slowly to the shore, enjoying the last moments of water stroking my skin as I walk out onto the tiny black beach.
The volcano ash gets stuck on my feet and so I just walk to our tent barefoot, taking in as much as possible.
We meet the ranger again. And are invited to join him to watch bats that are about to come. Eager to see them, we change in some warm and dry clothes and almost run back to the lake (it’s about 10-minute walk from our tent).
After we chat for a little while about that there are actually leeches in the lake (but, luckily, more on the south shore than the north one where we swam), the bats come!
The ranger gives us his phone to hold it – the insects are attracted by the light and so the bats fly straight to us!
Standing on the top of a huge fallen log, we must try our best not to try to avoid the bats so we don’t fall down. But, obviously, the bats take sharp turns in front of our eyes, not touching us one bit.
It’s getting really late and our stomachs growl, asking for some food. We walk back to the ranger’s office to give him back his phone which he left with us when he went to finish filling in some files.
After another interesting chat with him, he gives us a ride to our tent in his golf-course-like cart – Mario Kart in real life? Well, that’s really a day full of adventures, not counting that I almost fall out during the ride as it is made for one and a half person and we are three adult people riding in it.
In the dark, we collect some wood to make a small fire. And our dinner? Lazy to cook, we pull out our leftovers from Taco Bell and heat them on the fire. A bit smoky, but still delicious. But I think that after such a day, we would call “delicious” almost anything. As we say; “hunger is the best chef”.
Before going to sleep, we just stare at the fire and a trillion stars above us. They’re incredible. I almost forgot how beautiful stars are. I can’t see them where I live.
Laying in my sleeping bag with the tent opened, I stare at the stars through a mosquito net until I fall asleep.
What I don’t know is what tomorrow is about to bring…
The previous Our-Little-Road-Trip article is HERE.
And have a wonderful day! 🙂
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