It’s been many years since I’ve visited McKiel Lake. I’m guessing that I was an early teen the last time I was there, but it might have been even before then that. I can remember going fishing with my Dad, staying overnight at the camp, learning to play cribbage, and shooting pop cans with a pellet gun. At some point, though, I lost interest in going there. Maybe it was the long walk to get there. Maybe it was because there was “nothing to do” there, and if I didn’t have a computer or video game in front of me, I was bored. Maybe it was the fishing part itself that I disliked. I don’t know for sure. But whatever the reason, I stopped accepting my Dad’s offer, and eventually he stopped offering.
Fast forward a few years and I started to wonder about the Lake. I developed a new outlook on Life. I still hadn’t reached the Steve 2.0 era, but I was more mature, and had a greater appreciation for the little things in life. I wanted to see the spot where my Dad showed me a Lady’s Slipper growing among the rocks. I wanted to see the camp and look out at the water. I had let so much time pass by, and like all of Life’s lessons, that of Lost Time was a hard one. Yet even then I made no real effort to rediscover the Lake.
Given new insight into things, I decided that enough is enough. I made two attempts on my own to find the Lake, and when that proved futile, I asked my father for directions. He did better than that. He came up to show me exactly there the road to the Lake started. It’s not the kind of road that you want to take a car on, so we didn’t go to the Lake, but at least I had an idea where it was now. The next day I packed a bag, brought along some good company, and set out for a hike.
“Think of it as a nice long walk”, Dad had warned me. He wasn’t lying.
We parked the car at the bottom of the rocky hill, and we started to walk. And walk. And walk some more. And even when we thought that perhaps it was just around the corner, it wasn’t. I almost wished for a Hummer, but I couldn’t afford to put gas in it.
And finally, we reached the summit… well, it had flattened out considerably towards the end, so it didn’t feel like a summit, but I’m sure that my ears popped at least once.
From the rear, the cabin looked exactly how I remembered it. Then we stepped infront and realized that the passage of time (and the local vandals) had not treated it well. The windows were gone. Everything inside was gone. There were beer cans on the floor. The only thing that remained was an old locker with my grandfather’s name stencilled on the door. It was sad. As I looked inside I envisioned the few times that I had been there as a boy. Now, it was a hallow shell. I’m surprised that it was even still standing, and not reduced to ashes.
We sat down and looked out at the lake. The water was so still. It’s so isolated there. No one around. For kicks, I tried my cellphone. It said that I had one bar of service depending on how I held the phone, but I couldn’t seem to get a txt message to go. That’s fine. I didn’t mind being unplugged. Although I did receive a message from someone, so that was a little weird. Maybe I’ll try it again next time.
Next time? Oh yes. As isolated as the lake is. As long as that walk was. As many mosquitos as there were. I still plan on going back, and not before another 25 years pass by.
I took a couple of pictures with my cellphone. At the time of writing this, I haven’t gotten them off the phone yet to see how well they turned out. I will try to remember to attach them before this post is published.