Saturday, December 15, 2012

Foss Lake

I would not envy the homesteaders who came across the Plains. Even worse would be the work of a scout, a job often performed by a Native American. Being out on the Plains alone, often a half-day or more ahead of the wagons would, I believe, be a lot like being the point man on a patrol in Viet Nam---easily spotted, alone and unsupported, and a temptingly easy target. Being a Native American would not make the job safer, but quite the contrary. As an Indian friendly to the white man and the long knives, he would be equally hated by everyone.

A deep ravine, made to look less imposing by the cedar
trees growing in it, but quite impassable.
You’ve seen from some of my pictures the obstacles facing people trying to pick their way west. Ravines are just another example. You look across the land that looks flat and featureless, and suddenly you come on an impassable ravine that stretches in both directions and blocks your route.

A farmer growing a field of wind turbines.
I was headed for Clinton Lake, but the afternoon was wearing on, and I knew Clinton had no camping sites. It seemed the thing to do was to stop at Foss Lake for the night, and make an early start to get down to Clinton Lake in the morning. Plus, I had not seen Foss Lake in a couple years.

Pushed close in the lee of a grove of trees
to escape some of the wind.
Foss Lake is down 39% of capacity, or twelve feet in water level. The percentage would be a lot lower were it not for the 50-foot deep valley that comprises the center of the lake. The most interesting part of lake paddling is pushing up the feeder streams and coves. Those are all bone dry. Unfortunately, paddling around the deep vein that remains would be as featureless and uninteresting as paddling around a swimming pool. I had paddled the entire lake a couple years ago, and there were some really interesting side channels then, but that’s all gone. While there was still some light, I decided to take a walk around the bare lake shore.

A touch of sunset turns into a brilliant blaze.
By the time I got the tent set and had made dinner, it was getting dark. I took my bowl of food and climbed into the truck to escape the wind and enjoy the warmth. It was a chicken pot pie stew for chow, followed with a hot cup of cider and a Pop-Tart two years past its expiration date. But, as I’ve said, there’s nothing you can do to those things, and it was still good.

As the sky darkens, a bright full moon illuminates the lake.
As I crawled into the sleeping bag, I could hear a pack of coyotes somewhere further south along the lake shore.


No comments:

Post a Comment