The Magic Table

July 29, 2018

Dawn comes quickly in the summer, waking us at a ridiculously early hour. Forest Service Road 23, which would lead us to the town of Trout Lake, 17 miles away, had no cars and no phone service. Philosophically, we began walking, and were rewarded with a spectacular sunrise from behind nearby Mt Adams.

The second car to pass us on this seldom used road was going away from town, but stopped anyway. The couple were taking hiking friends to the trailhead, and assured us that they would pick us up on their way back!

They dropped us at Trout Lake Grocery, wishing us good hiking. Jay and I walked around the corner to eat breakfast at the only cafe in town, then asked at the grocery for lodging options.

The cashier kindly pointed to the wall which sported a list of five places. “I know for a fact that the first two are already full,” she told us.

I began phoning, and was delighted to make a reservation at Trout Lake Cozy Cabins.

“Check in time is 3:00 p.m.” I was told as I made the reservation. I looked at my watch. We still had six hours!

“Hmmm,” I was thinking fast. “We need to buy supplies, but after that, is there a shady place on your property where we could wait?”

“Oh sure,” the lady on the phone assented. “We’ve got tables and a hammock. And we could probably let you check in a bit early, once the cabin is cleaned.”

I grinned. She knew just what a tired hiker needed!

We bought food for the next week, then began loading our packs at a table beside the grocery. Scott and Teri, PCT hikers we had met two days ago, arrived, having hiked five miles to the road and gotten a ride from a local trail angel. We traded hellos, glad to see familiar faces. As we shouldered our packs, the cashier came out of the store.

“Did you find a place to stay?” she asked.

“Yes, thank you. We made a reservation at the cabins a mile away.” I smiled as I adjusted my hip belt.

“You’re not walking there, are you?” She looked concerned.

I paused, unsure of what to say. How else could we get to our destination?

“There’s a trail angel inside. I’ll just tell him to take you!” She turned and whisked away.

A few minutes later a man came out of the store and lowered the tailgate of his truck. What could we say? “Thank you,” seemed inadequate.

A couple minutes of pleasant conversation brought us to Trout Lake Cozy Cabins, a lovely place with gorgeous cabins nestled between shady trees and beautiful flowers.

Knowing we would have wait time, we had succumbed to temptation and bought a locally made huckleberry pie to keep us company.

A maid kindly loaned us dishes so we didn’t have to eat hiker-style, with our hands.

Just as we began eating, a man approached, carrying a quarter of a chocolate cake.

“We’re packing up to leave. We’ve had a family reunion here this weekend. I was wondering if you would like some of our birthday cake?”

Who could resist an introduction like that? We enjoyed talking to Jeff for a few minutes, telling him about our adventure, hearing of hikes he had taken in the past.

As he stood to go back to packing his car, he asked, “Look, we’ve got a whole watermelon. Could you use it?”

“Sure!” My mouth watered at the thought of one of my favorite summer foods. “We can always share it with other hikers. Let me walk back with you so you don’t have to make two trips.”

Back at his cabin, Jeff introduced me to Yvonne and Samantha. They asked more questions about our hike, while Jeff handed me the watermelon. Then he came out with a whole armful of groceries! “Maybe you could use these sandwich makings?”

A few minutes later, Jeff’s grown son came over with more food! He sat and talked with us, asking questions about our hike and telling us of his favorite outdoor adventures. Such friendly, generous people!

When he left, Jay looked at the bounty spread before us. “It’s as if we sat down at a magic table!”

So began two days of rest, with delicious food, friendly people, and a very comfortable place to stay!