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Conflict Lake: The Autumn Pilgrimage
Timestamp Free: 2018.02.19 - 22:54:51
Ranges: North America Ranges / Pacific Cordillera Range / Coast Mountains / Pacific Ranges
  (1 days)
Participants: Rita Rice; Mitch Sulkers
Difficulty: 1: Easy hike most years; occasionally, snow presents challenges.
Every year, as the snow flies, we make a pilgrimage to the high country west of Callaghan Lake, an area easily accessed by vehicle, but rarely used by hikers.
Each November we trundle up the Callaghan FSR in our 4x4 to Callaghan Lake to fuel our excitement for the coming winter. Normally we grind up through snow that reaches the doors, then launch off into winter white following the tracks of all the critters that frequent the old growth forests leading to Conflict Lake. The fact that we hadn't yet reached Conflict Lake in a trio of efforts made the trip more enjoyable each year, as we imagined that this might be the year we would shake off the distractions and actually find the lake and its attendant lodge.

[photo]CallaghanMt.jpg[caption]Mount Callaghan is the Highest Peak in the Background[/photo]

Normally, berries are plucked, usually frozen or at least slushy, and we grin with blue-stained lips as we wander through a white, soft winter landscape. Lunch is normally taken quickly under the shelter of a few yellow cedar or spruce. Then it's back again into the blowing snow or falling sleet as we stretch our legs and our imaginations wandering through the beautiful meadow complexes, imagining what it would be like months hence when we could dip and swoosh through the meadows on our telemark skis.

But this past half-year has been different--very different. An awesome dryness has left its mark. The blueberries are long gone, many having not made it to maturity in this very dry summer and the rest having long ago been gleaned by the big fuzzies that roam this valley. The normally wet marshes have been frozen solid and the ponds have icy covers that will support human crossings. Even the creeks have bridges of ice, those that still have water in them, for many of the creeks in the area are no longer flowing above ground.

This year it is easy to travel quickly over the frozen terrain, especially in the meadows, and so...

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