Leapfrog’s 2003 House Gathering

December 6, A John Lawton Special near Winnewanna Impoundment | December 7, A John Lawton Special Around Gorman Lake

Leapfrog's Gathering: Sunday, December 7, 2003, A John Lawton Special Around Gorman Lake

It is a bit warmer today than yesterday and the skies are clearer too. It will be a good day for the shorter hike that John has planned for our little group. It seems that Sundays are always a slower day for us. John and I arrived at Sue’s house around 9:30AM and while breakfast had been pretty much consumed (bacon was left filled the air with that lovely aroma) people were in no hurry to get going for the hike. Some people had been present yesterday were gone today and some other people who had not made it yesterday were here today. Among the latter was Gran-Ma Soule who seemed her usual bright-eyed chipper, ready to go, 78 (or is it 79?) year old self. She’s a real treat of a person and an exuberant hiker and backpacker to boot. Between one thing and another we did not pile into cars to leave for Lyndon Park until nearly 11:00AM. It’s a good thing the hike today would be a shorter, more trail oriented hike, than the day before.

As a group we have been to this area before. John, no doubt, has been in the area numerous times. I’ve been to the region before with John once and again with others too. But this hike would not be dull. The spice would come from doing the route in reverse from when the group had first done it two years ago. For me this hike would let me also fill in a gap along the Waterloo-Pinckney trail between Lyndon Park and Island Lake. We started down the trail just after 11:00AM, the temperature was just above freezing, the sun was out, there was no wind. It was noticeably warmer than yesterday. So much so that I did not even start the hike with my wind shirt on. I just strode along in my snappy gray Paramo Mountain Shirt and Ibex Guide Light pants. The group spread out as groups like these do and conversations sprung up immediately. It’s hard sometimes to revel in nature in a group setting like this. But I still believe you can get a lot out of being just outside in the woods with friends. I know I get less in large groups than others do because unless I’m with someone who is actively looking for things I won’t see those things either. And hearing the world around you is, as you would expect, rather more different when the prominent sounds are those of conversations and the rustle of a dozen pairs of feet through leaves.

Since John was leading the group we of course would not stay on the most known route. We veered off the Waterloo-Pinckney trail (42°22'39.6" -84°03'28.0") onto a very old, narrow, century and more unused road that more or less paralleled the official hiking trail. We followed this road and soon could see Island Lake off to our left (east) and then we were at the famous intersection with its renowned scarred tree. It was time to begin our circumnavigation of Gorman Lake.

I suppose I did not pay enough attention when I last circumnavigated this lake with John a year ago. It is hard to say how the trail felt different this year. When we started out crossing a moderately open field of tall grass and prickly rose bushes I acquired my lone wound of the day. Getting pricked and scratched when you travel through the bush is a given. I slipped in a small hole and as I fell to the right I reached out to steady myself (quickly regained my balance) and the bush I used for this purpose inflicted its prickers upon my right hand. I pulled away with a half dozen little thorns in my hand. It wasn’t hard to pluck them out but they all left their marks. We pushed through the bushes and sometimes faint trails working our way clockwise around Gorman lake from it’s northwestern edge. If you did not know the lake was there you would not know it was there. The lake remains hidden for a fair portion of the hike. But when it does become visible it is a fine sight to see. The shoreline is flecked with ice and the waters farther out shimmer darkly blue.

Once in a while we paused to play at the water’s edge. Standing at the edge of the lake testing the strength of the fairly thin ice, looking at the pressure ridges and waves in the ice as well as the ripples in the water, enjoying the now partly cloudy early afternoon, and enjoying just being outdoors. A very fine day.

As we continued around the lake I wondered where the bramble hell I remembered was. When I asked John about it he said it was coming up. We were not quite as far around as I had thought. But in time we reached the brushy pricker laden area we both remembered. Instead of pushing through this prickly mass John decided to take us out to the nearby two-track. We would miss the prickers and the portion of the lake where the public access is, but that was alright. I doubt anyone minded.

The return from Gorman Lake along the Waterloo-Pinckney was enjoyable for me because it was a different return route. I kept looking for Island Lake on the right but never saw it. That struck me as a bit odd since we were not that much farther away from it, but perhaps there were just enough more trees to block the view. Instead we passed by ice covered ponds and the remains of a debris hut that Siler (Paul Hann) had noticed two years before. This little shelter was used by someone to protect themselves from the elements. I imagine it worked quite well.

Instead of returning directly to the cars we detoured off towards Lake Genevieve. I had never been to this lake before. We did not circumnavigate the lake. Instead we just wandered down to near its shore and then back to a ridge keeping the lake mostly just to our west. Then we worked our way back along a trail back to the parking lot where some people left to go home while most of us went back to Sue’s house for one final bit of chit-chat, eating, and spending time with each other before this annual gathering came to its close.


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