A Hike To Goose Lake

This time of year my excursions are usually limited to 'close to home' (although, in a future post I will be sharing the story and photos from a recent hike to Sheep Lake). Of course there are few areas within a reasonable (2 to 3 hour) hiking distance which I have not explored - at least once. However, some places are worth a second (and third and fourth and so on) visit. Goose Lake is one such place.
Regular readers might remember Goose Lake as the location I found the infamous "Jackalope" skull featured in last year's Humble Pie post. Others might remember a post from further back featuring an earlier-in-the-season hike to Goose Lake. Obviously, Goose Lake is not a new location. Nonetheless, it is a pleasurable one.
What is Goose Lake's draw? I think, more than anything, it is the serenity. Not that this is an 'elusive' element around Elk Lake. It is, in fact, easily found. However, for those of us who not only live, but also work here, the opportunity to slip away to a lake with fish and birds and other wildlife (and no work close-by) is still a treat.
This particular hike started a bit late since we had morning chores to complete before heading out the door. However, the previous evening had featured a nice shower which left the mid-morning air fresh and brisk. As we headed down the trail to our boathouse (to do a bit of cleanup before hitting the 'real' trail), the sunlight danced off raindrops on the leaves bordering our path.
Hidden Lake is a favorite 'hidden' haunt of local (and not-so-local) fly-fishermen. Thus we were not surprise to find a couple of fishermen there ahead of us. In fact, by the time we made our way back past the lake we counted EIGHT people along the shore. Who would think a little lake at the end of a gravel and dirt road would be such a popular spot? I guess it's just a testiment to the quality fishing and amazing beauty.
At Hidden Lake's north end, we came to the Hoodoo Pass junction. I've taken the hike, up - up - up that hill. It's a pretty walk, but today our feet kept us heading toward little 'ole Goose Lake. So, around the corner and down the canyon we tramped.
Three or four Grizzlies have been sighted on the Refuge this spring / summer. However, my hikes have not turned up so much as an old Grizzly track. I have seen a few Black Bear tracks, but nothing as fresh as the one we came across on our way down to Goose.
The rain the previous evening had left this section of the trail very muddy. Thus the bear left distinct images, and we were able to set a general time he (or she although there was only the one set of tracks so. . .) had passed our way. Although it was clearly a Black Bear, and although we had our bear spray, we were still glad to see he / she had been heading back the way we'd come. That meant we weren't as likely to come around a corner and find ourselves nose-to-nose with a black hairy creature who thought it owned this stretch of forest!
As long as the frost does not come too early (and too hard), it looks like this may be a great year for berries. Certainly all of our recent hikes have had built in 'pick-your-own fruit stands' scattered along the trail. Today it was wild strawberries - and they were lovely, red, and large (for wild ones that is).
As a few frequent fishermen might admit, Goose Lake has some beautiful residents. However, if they admit to their presence, they will probably also tell you they are not so easy to catch.
Goose is a fairly shallow lake. Certainly it is not deep enough to avoid freezing to an uninhabitable point unless something keeps it from doing so. Since I've never tackled the trek back here on snowshoes, I cannot speak from experience. However, based on the fact that the fish are not stocked and the natives not only survive but obviously thrive in this little lake, I've come to the conclusion the spring holes (like the one shown above surrounded by numerous fish) must keep the lake from freezing too deep as well as provide a source of food / oxygen to keep the fish alive.
Goose Lake's water is so clear, we were able to watch the fish swimming just a few feet from shore. This photo shows one of the nice Rainbows which swam within a few yards of where we sat. A Beautiful Fish!
The day did not provide any large game sightings. However, we did not expect to see much along that line in the middle of the day. But, as I tell folks who visit Elk Lake, what you see is really dependent on what you look for. I have learned that no hike (or jog, for that matter) is without something to see. And, as a result, I've gained a deeper appreciation for the critters who share my trails and haunts. From birds to bugs, from fish to falcons, from deer to dragonflies - there is always something to see, to enjoy, and from which to learn a little more.
Some of my birding guests have taken up Dragonfly photography. While I have neither the time nor the desire (right now) to join their pursuit, several of these stripped winged something-or-others (I'm afraid I do not know Dragonfly names - yet) caught my eye. With their big eyes, they are nearly impossible to approach (one of the reasons I'm not yet ready to attempt photographing them). However, this one let me get close enough to capture a decent image.

The quiet rustling of the wind in the trees - the static vibration of a dragonfly's wings - the splash of a jumping trout - the snapping and popping of the grasshoppers - these serendaded us as we relaxed by the shore. That is until the piercing cry of an Osprey cut across these peaceful sounds. I think he was telling us to get a move on - we were trespassing on one of his favorite fishing spots. Why do fishermen get so possessive of 'their' favorite holes? Whatever the reason, our time had come to go. And so, once again, I said 'good-bye' to this peaceful spot and headed back up the trail to Hidden (hoping the bear had not finished his business and headed our direction). Ahhh - what a lovely way to idle away an afternoon!
Lady of the Lake

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