At this point, I needed to start thinking about where I’d be spending the night. I ventured a few miles north to the trailhead for Owen Pond. According to my topographical map, it was a half mile hike into the pond. My knees still hurt very badly, but I didn’t want to pass up another opportunity for adventure.
When I travel alone, I prefer to sleep in the rooftop tent. It’s relatively safe, and it’s familiar. However, that night, I crammed my ENO hammock and sleeping bag into my day pack, and set off into the woods with the intention of spending the night.
I passed one group of hikers on their way out, as I hobbled painfully toward my destination. The elevation changes were minimal, but my knee pain was excruciating. Every step I took was laced with muffled curse words.
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Eventually, a small clearing emerged next to Owen Pond, a picturesque lake nestled among the Adirondacks. The setting sun cast a warm glow on my surroundings as I set up the hammock next to the water.
The stillness of the water and the deafening silence made it clear that I had the place all to myself. I put my trepidation aside, and slid into my sleeping bag to watch the night descend. While the trees obscured the stars above, I was able to watch them twinkle solemnly in the reflection of the lake.
I was out of my comfort zone, immersed in nature, and it was amazing.
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I awoke just as the morning sun crested the horizon. The lake, as I had hoped, was veiled in mist and low-hanging clouds flirted with the wooded mountain tops. I watched, as sunbeams slowly penetrated my campsite, as if to breathe life into the world.
Although I was perfectly comfortable in the cool morning air, the lake tempted me to swim. I figured it’d be wise to freshen up again, and I knew I’d regret it if I passed up the opportunity to do so. I was still completely alone, so there’d be no need for clothes.
The water was chilly, but not unbearably cold. I sunk into the water and backstroked out toward the center of the lake at a leisurely pace. There I floated, refreshed and relaxed, consumed by the golden hues of the morning mist.
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After returning to shore, I packed up my gear and commenced the hike back to the Cherokee.