Driving south of town, you watch the two-lane blacktop curve back and forth around slight slopes of evergreens. You catch glimpses of a rushing creek bed on your left. Then, a large and beautiful pond, clear and shining, appears, and you almost miss your right turn on to Spruce Road. The scent of pine needles wafts in your windows in the cool mountain breeze.
You find the trailhead and gather your gear. The day is sunny, the sky is blue. On this hike you pass through forests and over tiny streams, in and out of old beaver meadows filled with a riot of color as wildflowers and butterflies dance in the breeze.
You pass by little ponds, then get to a rocky steep area. Over on your right is a large shelf of rock. You can hear the thundering nearby. It’s a good place to stop and eat lunch, so you spread out on the rock and gaze at the crashing waterfall next to you.
Later, you hike up the steep hill, occasionally using a hand to help yourself up. Old mining cables, broken and twisted, snake down the slope.
You see more evergreens and meadows before suddenly coming to a trail intersection. Cyclists are resting by the sign pointing the way down Wheeler trail. You continue on your trail. A large beaver pond is nearby, and backpackers are coming down with fishing poles jiggling in their packs.
At the top — what you think is the top — is a bowl with mountains surrounding, filled with mostly with an impossibly shallow and clear mountain lake stretching over to an emergency cabin. You stop to rest, and discover a marmot hiding in a nearby cleft.
And, if you can find it, a trail leads a little higher up, to a smaller lake with native cutthroat trout, colorful in their splendor in the clear water as if in an aquarium.
That’s Mohawk Lake.