Deep Creek to Silverwood Lake
The next morning we woke up to find the pond behind our tent was shining molten gold in the morning sunlight. I felt refreshed and ready to tackle a new day— and the fact that we’d be spending the night under a roof (with Grandpa Ed, Zach’s stepdad’s dad) didn’t hurt, either!
We crossed the rainbow bridge and hiked along Deep Creek for a little while longer, then found ourselves ascending abruptly out of the trees into the desert landscape that was becoming as familiar to us as our own faces: dry green brush, rolling hills, sand and boulders.
Our day’s journey took us along the top of a range of hills, then plunged us into a dusty industrial area next to a gigantic reservoir. It took us a few hours to hike around the side of the ring of mountains that held in the reservoir, looking at the outside of the dam from a distance. We cut through private property (with their permission, apparently— the trail was consistently marked) and walked on the shoulder of a little-used highway.
The trek became more pleasant when the trail turned off the road and wound through a grove of trees and over a hill thick with brush, dumping us off at the edge of the reservoir, Silverwood Lake. Its beauty took me by surprise— it was a deep, vivid turquoise that dazzled my eyes. We walked along the rim, passing the occasional side trail that forked off to descend a dizzying flight of stairs to little picnic areas down by the beaches.
After a few miles we departed Silverwood Lake and skirted the edge of a park attached to it. There was supposed to be a water fountain there, but we missed the turn and ended up on a service road. In the end, we filtered water out of a warm, swift but algae-choked stream.
We were almost to our rendezvous point at a road crossing, but we had plenty of time before Grandpa Ed was supposed to pick us up, so we sat underneath a grove of evergreens to read.
I sat in the dust and pine needles, leaning against my backpack while Zach read The Ride of the Rohirrim from Lord of the Rings. We read for about an hour, then walked the couple hundred yards to a place where the trail crossed an exit ramp and delved under a highway. Then we sat in the blazing sun on the shoulder of the road and hoped we’d recognize Grandpa Ed when he drove up, and that he’d recognize us.
He pulled up in his Jeep exactly on time, and at a glance, I knew it had to be him: Sean, Zach’s stepdad, favors him strongly. He pulled up to the curb and greeted us warmly. Soon we were back on the highway headed to a place only nine miles away— but worlds different from the dusty trail we’d been hiking all day.
We arrived at his hometown, a place that reminded me of Idyllwild, just a bit bigger: remote, perched on the side of a mountain, with fresh cold air and a forest of pine trees. We passed a lake and a community center and pulled up to a cozy house on a hill.
Grandpa Ed’s wife, Sande, was waiting there for us, along with three little dogs. She was just as welcoming as her husband, and soon we were on the road again, headed to a place to get supper. We stopped at a cafe with solid pine booths and tables, typo-riddled menus, and amazing stuffed pizza— Zach and I ordered a large to split.
We had conversation about family, about the trail thus far, about our lives and theirs. I was very tired and found it hard to carry conversation, so I left most of it to Zach. When we returned home, they offered us showers and futons upstairs. We accepted both.
Sande told me to use any of the shampoos or lotions in the shower. I took full advantage of this, and came out of the shower smelling like at least five different soap, body wash, and hair care fragrances.
After hanging out a bit longer, Zach and I said goodnight to Grandpa Ed, and goodbye to Sande, since she was leaving for work early the next morning. Then we headed upstairs, curled up on the futons, and crashed.