We headed up the Eight Dollar Road for the second hike of our journey – Babyfoot Lake. The small lake at the bottom of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness was burned in the Biscuit Fire of 2002. At first glance, the area looks like a nuclear bomb went off; but the longer you stare at the devastation, the more you can see signs of renewal and rebirth. It was a perfect place to continue our journey.
When we reached the trailhead for Babyfoot Lake, it was raining pretty hard with gusts of wind strong enough to drive the cold into the cracks. We decided it wasn’t worth the hike in if we weren’t going to get to fly the drone, and so we began our descent back down the mountain. After driving about a quarter mile we came across a pretty large rotten log blocking the road. “We should clear that out of the way!” the kid said. (I do not think he knew what he was saying.)
After parking the car out of the road, we each grabbed our axes. I had a double-bladed axe, while the kid had a heavier single blade version. We got to work chopping the log into three separate sections so that we could roll each of these over the cliffs, out of the way of traffic. It took us longer than we expected, but eventually we chopped our way through, and with some heaving, we were able to roll the logs clear. We called this our first “upper body strength building day.”
By the time we were finished with the log, the weather had cleared enough to make it worth hiking into Babyfoot Lake. We drove back to the top and began our short hike into the mountain lake. The burned landscape was startling and a little bit haunting as we walked down the trail through the heavily charred forest. While the large blackened trees dominated the landscape, for every burned giant there were 5 or more seedlings growing around it, making renewal stand out much more than the charred remains of the previous forest.
We reached the lake, into which multiple charred trees had fallen. The lake was small and beautiful, but it seemed like a crater of sorts in the middle of the burned landscape. I walked to one side which used to be the favorite campsite, and I thought about the many times my friends and I had hiked up here during high school to party for the weekend —- times long gone.
We didn’t spend much time at the lake. It was a pretty hostile environment that didn’t encourage much wandering around. The tree snags, downed logs, and other post-fire disarray made it all a lot of work to get about.
There was no drone flight due to the weather, but the work we accomplished clearing the log and the emotion that we felt from hiking through the burned landscape made it worthwhile nevertheless. As we emerged from the trail, once again we were soaked and sore, but we were really starting to feel the benefits of hiking (working our lower bodies) and trail-clearing (working our upper bodies). Healing and renewal was in motion.
(You can view more photos from our hike here.)