High country musings

Posted by Ken Campbell March 10, 2011 0 Comment 693 views

I have been spending an inordinate amount of time lately thinking about the things I still want to do and see in the Olympics. Maybe it’s that we had such a good time at this year’s Pummel or that I’m looking ahead to traveling around the peninsula this summer. It could be simply that I’ve been able to see the mountains often over the past couple of days – they are captivating, even from a distance. It might also be the tragedy earlier this week out near Joyce, when Ellen DeBondt’s life was ended by a drunk driver. I know that senseless incident has a whole lot of people thinking right now.*
For whatever the reason, I woke up this morning with Royal Basin on my mind. I see the Palo Alto turnoff every time I drive out 101 – maybe that’s why I’m thinking about it – and I can’t help but wonder what it’s like up there right now. Buried in snow, for one thing. It would be difficult to get there at this time of year, and if you could, there wouldn’t be much to see when you arrived.
Summer, however, is a different keg of barley. The wildflowers and the goats mingle on the sloping terrain, and the lake is alive with trout. Camp robbers call out from the trees and further up toward the high cirque, marmot whistle their opinions. The high peaks that encircle the valley cast strange, long shadows in the late-July evening and a universe of stars clutters the night sky. I have been to Royal Basin on several different trips, but it has been far too long.
My guess is that it’s cold and windy up there this morning. Four inches of new snow swirls through the branches of the spruce and fir near the lake. The lake itself is frozen hard and the snow that covers it lies several feet deep. The land is still sleeping, and summer seems a long way off.
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*There are some more articles in the Peninsula Daily News relating to Ellen’s death, and Rob Casey has some important information on his site as well.

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