I lived my first 32 years very near the trailhead to Lake Blanche. The first time I hiked that trail, at 16, Dave, a boy two years my senior on whom I had a mad crush lured me there. It’s only three miles, but they are all relentlessly up the south side of a steep canyon. Dave was a hiker. I was not. Lake Blanche was a slog for me. I whined. But we got there, and the raw beauty widened my infatuation from boy to land. What Dave started, in the end, had nothing to do with him and everything to do with her. Since that first hike, every person who has ever meant anything to me has been to Lake Blanche… or at least part way to Lake Blanche… with me. As I approached my 60th birthday, I knew I had to celebrate with “my lake.” It was mid-October, a sharp, cloudless, autumn day. Art, my husband, established a pace that would have made Dave wither. But there was no whining. Now, I want to recreate the wonder for you. I can tell you that the trail starts at the bottom of the canyon, near the creek, shaded by evergreens. I can tell you to look across the canyon, and marvel when the view opens up. And I can tell you that the first time you can see the peak on the far side of the lake from the trail it’s tempting to believe you are almost there, but you are not. I can tell you that you will want to sit a while longer on the slick red rocks. But I have not been as attentive a lover as I wish I had. I have lived too much in my own head. I have squandered opportunities to really know this place in a deeper way. And now, at 62, there’s not a lot of time left. The knees are failing. The years creep by and Lake Blanche is no longer in my back yard. But she is still there, and she would never deny me another chance.