The night had been frigid, and we spent it wearing every piece of clothing we had and tucked deep into our sleeping bags. Even so, we still felt the penetrating chill inhabiting our tents. When dawn finally broke, we were like cold blooded reptiles, slow to get moving in the absence of the warming sun. As the day finally warmed, our pace quickened only a bit as we cobbled breakfast together, ultimately rejecting the terrible dehydrated meals in favor of hot cocoa, pudding, and artisan bread.
The sun finally stretched up above the pines, banishing the cold and lighting up our lake with a morning glow. We picked up for a stroll around the lake shore, snapping photos and soaking in the stillest silence amid the trees. Although we had no real plans for the day, we stalled our return trip as long as possible, grazing on our snacks and watching the wispy clouds blow over the mountain tops.
Eventually, hunger won out, and we packed up to head home knowing that we’d be in serious need of real lunch before too long. We made it only a few minutes before we stood on the bank of Ruth Lake with Colton daring us to go swimming. The day had melted from frosty to lovely and warm, but not exactly what I’d consider warm enough to justify a jump in a high altitude lake. Even still, it was a mere matter of minutes before we had all stripped down to practically nothing to dive in the frigid water.
By now, a handful of day hikers were milling around the lake, stopping to watch our scantily clad parade go headlong into the nippy water before reeling from the cold and running straight back to shore, laughing every step. The water was shockingly cold, but I didn’t care a bit. The moment was so perfect I felt as though I were in a movie. There I stood with some of my dearest friends, soaking wet and giggling on the edge of a beautiful lake, scraping up the very last bits of summer before autumn swallows them whole.