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Twin Lakes Hike ... and the Favor of Spring

Photo: Trillium -- an iconic symbol of spring.

Twin Lakes Hike ... and the Favor of Spring
by Glen Carlson

If one favors this season above the others, as I do, you come to learn that spring repays affection with compounding interest. This marks my third spring fling within a month. I've already celebrated the green buds bursting along the Virgin River in Zion National Park. I spent two days wading among the wood ticks in the warmth and wonder of the Ancient Lakes. Now, it's Twin Lakes hike-time, an annual tradition and measuring stick of the season. I came here to see how far spring has climbed into the mountains.

I made camp at Napeequa Crossing. The leaves are out along the river, but random snow clumps still bunch the forest floor. The bugs aren't bad, yet. As of Saturday, the mosquitoes had not hatched. I did have one rather husky fellow show up. I suspect he had been drinking. He stumbled onto my arm and wobbled about, weakly probing with his proboscis. He quickly tired of his attempts at penetration and lumbered away in an erratic flight. I soon lost both sight and interest in him.

The map at the Twin Lakes trailhead indicates a round trip of seven miles. If you hike to the second Twin, the distance is closer to nine miles. The trail is a bit littered but mostly clear aside from the random blow-down and snow bank. The creek crossing presents a challenge, but if you always turn back at high water, you'll never get your feet wet!

Photo: Blooming serviceberry in the near ground; beckoning Mt. David in the far ground.

The elevation change is only 800 feet, but as I climbed, the calendar slid back a month.  The higher I went, the younger spring became. The mountain's first born have already been delivered, the trillium on the hillside and skunk cabbage in the wet places. These hardy but fragile harbingers are the point of spring's spear. When they come, others will soon follow.

Photo: A mat of dead leaves will soon feed a carpet of life.
From mid trail upward the forest floor is laid with a tattered, molted mat of leaves. It’s like a ground cover of spent tea bags whose goodness has seeped into the soil. That goodness, cooked by sun and watered by melt, is what makes this hike so fulfilling. The mountain world is awakening! New life is elbowing old things aside. Soon these hills will thunder with peals of green. But that is then, this is now and the transformation bell has just been rung.

Photo: Spring has barely descended upon the second Twin Lake.

The creek is rushing in the narrows below the lakes. The trail here calls for caution through snow patches and wet sections that I suspect will be high and dry within a week. The way around the lake is open and wide. The land is still pressed down by the weight of the recently departed snow pack. That, and a mostly sunny sky, makes for easy going. In a month, new growth will choke the trail. Here and there accents of trillium serve notice of things to come.

Photo: The cabin at the second lake.

The cabin at the second Twin fared well over winter. The hatchery walk and pens are still intact. A section of trail is now part of a new creek run. The birds are not yet patrolling the lakes in full force, but the blue butterflies have taken wing again. Down below, just past the cedar grove near the beaver pond, I roused a golden eagle that took flight and watched me pass from a loose pattern of figure 8's. Back at camp at Napeequa Crossing the birds were much more active and the foliage almost full.

Photo: Camp along the White River at Napeequa Crossing.

Just after nightfall a tight V of Canada geese, pushed by a tail wind, honked down the White River passing me by at eye level.

It was yet another sight and sound of the favor of spring.


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