Holden Village Staff Experience August, 2003

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Hikes and scenery (you won't believe this...)
Most of the hiking trails are reached by walking through and out of the village.  About 3/4 mile in, there's a meadow that clearly was at one time a baseball diamond for the mining community.  Now it's overgrown with weeds, but Holden has built a labyrinth out in left field.  It's the biggest I've ever walked, and the scenery that surrounds it is magnificent.  The best thing about this one is that it's so big, you can't second guess it, and you have a lot of time to focus on the walk, instead of on the destination.
Here you're standing just back from what would be the third base line, looking out towards left field.  The people walking the labyrinth might give you an idea of its size.

The paths are lines with rocks, and made of wood shavings, giving you a nice soft carpet on which to walk.  Flowering weeds (tansy, a noxious one) grow along the paths.

Hike to Hart Lake, 9 miles round trip


I'm taking the liberty of making the pictures I really like bigger.  The first 3 miles of the trail went through forest, and wonderful creeks like this made it interesting.  So did the thimbleberries, which we ate in great quantity. 


Then we emerged from the forest and started to climb.  It was relentless for about a mile, but when we saw this waterfall, we knew we were getting close.


Looking back, we could see how far we had come.


Finally!  Hart Lake, our destination.  Is this not spectactularly beautiful?  See all that white stuff at the top of the mountains?  Those are glaciers.


A lesson in what you're really looking at:  At sea level, in a normal place, this would be a lake.  In the Sierra Nevada, when you stick your foot in, you realize that although it may look like water, it is actually melted snow.  Up here in the Cascades, you must think of it as a melted glacier to get some idea of how cold it is.
Mary Beth and I had lunch here, then headed back.  A magnificent day!

Holden Lake Hike
10 miles round trip
The next week, Heidi, Kathy and I hiked to Holden Lake, the "must do" hike.  The trail is more strenuous because it switchbacks up over 1000 feet, but it's well designed, and hey, by then I was in good enough shape that I didn't feel much.
This is a beautiful hike, well worth the time.


Most of the way up the switchbacks and on our way to the pass that would lead us to Holden Lake.  That's Heidi in the picture.


There were flowers and ferns everywhere you looked.  Heidi had this feeling we were going to see a bear, and even asked me if I was serious about not wanting to see one.  Obviously, she is not from California, where the bears are so trained as to be dangerous.  I assured her I was very serious, so the three of us sang songs and talked a lot to make noise on the way.  No bear sightings.  Whew.


Here is Holden Lake, our destination.  This is a magnificent lake very high in the mountains, and you can see the waterfalls of the glaciers above it.  Unfortunately, there are lots of logs in the water around the lakeside, so it doesn't make for a welcoming beach (well, as much of a beach as you can get this high in the mountains).
Click here for more Holden Lake.

So we found the brook where the lake emptied, and some rocks, and we sat there for 3 hours and had lunch, talking about life transitions and "Is the life you are living the same as the life that wants to live in you?" and watching the marmots. 
Brian and Emily had spent the previous night up there and were on their way down.  Roger was to come by and say hi, and an idiotic teenage girl crossed the brook and couldn't get back without help. 
Even this far into the wilderness come those who crave the Darwin award.


Monkey Bear Falls Hike
Just a little one, 4 miles round trip in the opposite direction of the others


The trail heads out the way the bus came in.  Looking back toward Holden, you can see the tailings from the copper mine, which closed in 1957.  They are so big as to be almost mountains themselves, and they are certainly a blight on the land.  Sad, isn't it?  The staff at Holden toys with the idea of removing them, but it would take years and so much money that no one could afford it.  You can see them in the lower left of the picture.

From the trail going up to Monkey Bear Falls, looking back towards the village.  I couldn't stop staring at these mountains.


Monkey Bear Falls, the hike's destination.  Not as spectacular a place as Hart or Holden Lakes, but you saw the view in the picture above, so it was worth it.  To get to the falls, you climb actual stairs that were built by the Mavericks, I'm sure.  They look like something from someone's patio - nice stone, concrete, the works.
When I'm ready to go back (I hiked this one alone), I went down to the road and walked back on it, sure I wouldn't see a bear.  Talking out loud the whole way.  And I heard some weird sounds from the woods, but I didn't investigate, just did what I was supposed to do:  Turned around to face the sounds, walked backwards, and spoke in a casual voice.
When you do that, the message to the bears is,
      "I am a human.  Not good eating."