Bucking the Heat

Bucking the Heat

“It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”. You’ve heard this one, right? It is a saying used so frequently that it can often be mistaken as white noise.

I get it, we run around too much and don’t take time to enjoy the present. We are too busy and would benefit in so many ways by slowing down. We need to relearn how to appreciate what is in front of us because longing for what we don’t have is the source of all misery. The sentiment of the saying is not lost on me. I appreciate the reminder here and there.

But you know what? Sometimes it is about the destination. Take for instance last Sunday…

We had our first heat wave of the summer last week and Portlanders sweated their way through three consecutive days of commanding heat. And on the third day, the meteorologists all warned, a record would likely be broken as they were confident Portland would exceed the 100 degree mark.

If you are a US citizen who lives in a place other than the Pacific Northwest, two days of 90 degree heat followed by a day of 100 degrees may be nothing but a sweet little summer bump in the road. But for those of us used to cloud cover and an annual average temperature of 64 degrees, that kind of weather is almost unforgivable. For example, air-conditioning is not a given, in any place. In fact, we don’t have an air-conditioned house but we are lucky in that our house is a good piece of 1940’s craftsmanship. The walls are solid and the windows are arranged so that the evening breezes move efficiently throughout the downstairs. And it helps that the nights often cool down into the low 50’s.

But when faced with back-to-back days of high temperatures the house inevitably gives up and lets the heat linger in corners and eventually allows the heat to make itself at home in every room. And so it was on that third day, early Sunday morning, I padded out from the bedroom into the dining room bleary-eyed to feed cats and took time to read the thermostat. It was 76 degrees indoors before 8AM.

I moved through the house drawing shades and blinds and closing all the open windows to trap the coolest air of the day. And then I went about the task of convincing Andy not to prep for the following day’s work schedule but to escape with me somewhere into the cool.

Buck Lake.

It’s a semi-secret lake. You can Google it and get directions, but you have to know about it first. And then you have to have the determination to follow the damn crazy directions to get there.

Pristine Buck Lake

I drove and Andy navigated, unraveling the following directions whilst looking for the poorly marked forest roads:  

Take 224 through Estacada and at approximately 20 miles turn onto Forest Road (FR) 57. From FR 57 drive approximately 7.5 miles to the junction of FR 58. Stay left. Then at the junction with FR 5810, turn right. Drive east until FR 210. From there it’s just another mile to the trailhead.

Only two of those Forest Roads were marked. We backtracked a few times. More than once we ended up on a road that was crowded with fallen trees and pocked by burst asphalt only to eventually spy a sign directing vehicles to turn around as the road was no longer maintained.

We muttered to one another when we had to turn around on a precarious road, this is how people get lost and die in the wilderness.

Hiking into Buck Lake.

Buck Lake Trail.

Length: 1 mile roundtrip.

Elevation change: 310 feet.

Location: At 4000 feet, somewhere around FR 210 in Clackamas County in Mt. Hood National Forest. Good Luck.

Yep after all that driving, you still must hike into the lake area. The trail is steep and rocky at the outset making it difficult to carry coolers and floaties. Plus you’ll be pretty pissed about the drive in and that won’t help your footing. So watch your footing because if you fall and break anything it may be difficult to make it safely to civilization with one driver and an incapacitated navigator.

And you know at 4000 feet you’d think it would be cooler than what it is.

The trail does become easier- not quite as steep, not quite as rocky -and the shade gets better as the trees get bigger. Yet even then the trail certainly feels much longer than ½ a mile so go ahead and send a kind-hearted husband ahead to assure you are on the right trail, because today probably has not been a lucky one for direct routes. It would surprise no one if you have started out on a wrong trail.

Be sure to thank the heavens (at whatever point on the more-than-likely-longer-than-a-half-mile-trail) for a good partner who also happens to be a capable scout and has an ability to cleverly frame uncertain messages so that they sound more positive than what they really are. “I see a clearing”, he may say all sweaty because he has run ahead fleet-of-foot and back again so you are not alone for long on the trail.

Because you are weak, you may jump at the positive tone of the message but think again about that sentence, “I see a clearing”. You know, it is not the same as “I see the lake”. Force clarity: “Does that mean there is a lake ahead?” Do not be surprised at an impish grin, he is good but he is also mischievous.

Andy on a tube….floating.

Sometimes the journey can suck, but the destination is well worth it. And as you paddle about in a perfectly clear spring-fed lake be sure to tell yourself, well this time it was all about the destination. (Even though now from this point in the storyline the journey can be re-framed as satisfyingly adventurous).

View of Buck Lake from our day camp where we read and relaxed and fed cookies to chipmunks.

Then go enjoy chocolate chip cookies, bbq Pringles, coke-a-colas, and the Sunday New York Times under a canopy of old growth trees. Wait out the final hours of the heat wave in the gentle embrace of the trees and an aqua lake with the one you love best.


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