Start: Near Lake Janus
Camp : Lake Janus
Distance: maybe a mile
The snow is solidly frozen as I step purposefully, crossing the slope one sun-sculpted dish at a time. I have a triple serving of oatmeal with triple sugar and a handful of minute rice in me for fuel, which should feel fast, energetic, and even frenetic, but I feel strangely at peace; it is 8:30 a.m. and I am naked except for my boots. I am steady and focused, but I still manage a slip and firm fall. The cold is welcome.
I hiked about a mile before hearing voices. I stopped fully and turned my ear that way, because nowadays gurgling water or birds sound like voices too. But it really was voices, in fact it was the lively conversation of Adam and Taylor. Their presence here in my bare wilderness was contemptible, but their clean, friendly smiles comforted me with the realization that civilization must be very, very close. Food would soon be plentiful and portions would no longer be unequivocally linked to my hiking pace.
Adam I had a giant, unkempt mustache, twice as long as mine, and Taylor was a clean cut gent about my age. A passionate fishermen that I’d met relaxing in the rec room at the Stehekin Lodge had given me a fly, line and weights. I told them that this was to be my first time fishing in the wild and Taylor gushed. I followed his advice and walked out on some logs on the lake’s far side, where I quickly fell into the frigid water, and eventually got my fly tangled and lost in some branches, though not before I developed what I consider a good, rhythmic cast with the line tied to a dead pine switch.
Back at their camp, Taylor and Adam weaved a tale of a ten trout feast the night before, and overflowed with fishing prowess whilst doing it. They were sharing a sleeping bag between them but had brought their collapsible fishing poles and high-backed inner tubes. It wasn’t in my purview then but when Taylor said they’d catch me a fish I was easily persuaded to stick around for a bit.
So I’ve spent the day here, at Lake Janus. I took a bath, like a real bath where you lay in the water. Lake Janus is calm and in the muddy shallows near the point the water is relatively warm. I washed my clothes, though not like a real wash, I just rinse them and pound them on a rock. I played harmonica and read a real book with paper pages, and Taylor and Adam did catch fish, enough for each of us to have two. I helped gut them. I’d seen it but this was my first time doing it: you just slice open the belly and rip everything out and throw it. Then you scrape out the big vein with your thumb nail. Finally, you chop off the head and tail. Easy.
We fried up all six and they usually discard the skin but they made it crispy for me and I ate it. The fat was amazing. I made farro and rice and we fried it together with the fish meat and that was amazing too. I ate my portion and part of Taylor’s too. Mark came by when he was done, we’d seen him fly fishing from his inner tube all day, and he must have known I was hungry; from the shore we’d spoken briefly and I told him I was a southbounder. He gave me a 9oz bag of beef jerky, and he doesn’t know it, but I ate that all right then too. He offered me a ride to my next resupply in Baring tonight, he’d drive me all the way there. It would have been a short hike too because he’d come from a trailhead just 3.5 miles away. The only catch is I’d have had to skip the rest of the trail from here to Stevens Pass. That wasn’t a decision I was ready to make. Being back and having to make decisions is not something I’m ready for. I’ll walk the 8.5 miles and do the dirty work of hitchhiking 24 miles. So I’m full and very thirsty and lay in my tent wantonly smashing wayward mosquitoes. When it gets dark I will assume my head net and go to sleep.
Start: Near Lake Janus