In early June, one of my favorite adventure friends and I met for drinks to plan a weekend trip to Lake Blanca in the North Cascades. We figured the weekend right after Fourth of July would work best for both of us, with the holiday, and since it was a trip we’d been trying to do for a couple of years we were really committed to going. The 5 1/2 hour drive up on a weekend? No problem. Beating the crowds and finding a campsite? We were old pros. As last weekend got closer, we texted back and forth about how the weather looked good, and when we could get out of town, and who would bring what. It may come as a surprise to you then to find out that come Saturday night, I was sitting around a campfire at a different lake entirely, an hour and a half from Portland and couldn’t have been happier.
I’ve sung the praises of just going for it plenty of times. I’m an advocate for an epic adventure, for doing the crazy things—the bomber overnight trips to too far away, for slightly dubious trails in not-ideal weather—and I’m lucky to know a solid handful of people who are on board too. But this weekend was not one of those times. Sometimes it’s not actually worth it to wear yourself ragged for the sake of a peak or a beautiful vista or for the memories. Sometimes you need a campfire, a good friend, and 10 hours of sleep.
So instead of Blanca, we headed for Laurance Lake. I’d vaguely remembered being there as a kid (maybe?) and it fit into the radius for an easy overnight trip. We packed up the car and headed for some peace and quiet, not really sure what we’d find. We were both tired of the noise of traffic and airplanes, ready for some walks and the quiet companionship of a fellow artist and a friend. Laurance Lake delivered: a nice campground with only a few boisterous fellow campers, tall trees, a spectacular view of Hood, cold swimming and walks all around.
It wasn’t the trip we’d planned. There was no steep 7.5-mile hike to a pristine alpine lake—the one we sat by in the afternoon was manmade, and the dam was in sight. There was no sleeping under the stars of true darkness, we were still too close to town. There was no 10 hour car ride to listen to podcasts and have long, wandering conversations about what we’d read and where we thought we might like to live someday. But instead we took things slow. I wrote by the lake while she drew, and we laughed at Cedar charging in and out of the water. I slept in—for real!—too cozy to leave my sleeping bag. And we still got home on Sunday with time to prep for the week ahead. Lake Blanca will be there, ready for us next time. And until then I’ll keep my peaceful weekend close to my heart.