As much as we love Squaw’s snowy peaks during winter, the mountain is gorgeous during summer.
The chair lifts sit silent and still.
The ski runs are carpeted in wildflowers.
Double blue squares are silhouetted against a cloudless azure ski.
Before hiking to Shirley Lake, we decided to climb the steep face of the Emigrant chair lift, which was still covered with patches of not so fluffy, brown snow. Nonetheless at the top, we had a snowball fight and made dirty snow angels~is that not the perfect name for a cocktail? I’m thinking Kahlua over shaved ice garnished with chocolate shavings. YUM!
Until we trekked down the backside of Emigrant, we had yet to see another soul. Most folks, once they debark from the tram, venture no further than the High Camp swimming pool/restaurant/ice rink.
But at the top of Granite Chief, we ran into some locals on horseback. When we happened upon them, the group had tied up their steed and were chilling on some rocks, enjoying the view.
One guy, a photographer in his late 20s, was kind enough to snap a few pics for us…
He also gave us advice on how to connect with the Shirley Lake trail. We thanked him and took off down the mountain.
Saxon ventured away from our group traversing along a treacherous cliff completely covered in icy snow. I wondered how we would get him airlifted out after he plunged over the side.
As we made our way down the dirt path, a voice rang out on the quiet mountain.
“Hey! Any of you see a Coors Light? I buried one in the snow right by where you just walked.” It was our nice photographer calling from above.
Jimmy, Tanner and I looked at each other and shook our heads, “Sorry. We didn’t see it!”
We yelled to Saxon, who was attempting his Into Thin Air expedition 200 yards away. “Did you find a beer?”
“No-ooooooooo,” his voice echoed back.
“Sorry,” we called up the mountain, “No one saw it.”
At the top of Granite Chief the man began kicking furiously through the snow, searching for his brew. “Are you positive?” he called, more agitated.
“Yes, we’re positive!” My dry, parched mouth could feel his pain. Our Sigg water bottle drained, I imagined how refreshing an icy Silver Bullet would have tasted right then. “But thanks for the pictures!”
We soldiered on, down the wider, dirt trail for another thirty minutes until we reached emerald green Shirley Lake. We dipped in her hot and cold pockets, sharing the water with only one other family and their dogs.
We had heard there were amazing waterfalls just twenty minutes from the bottom so we decided to hike the rest of the way down the mountain. “Just follow the blue arrows spray painted on the rocks,” our friends by the lake told us. And so we did.
Of course after 10 minutes, Jimmy (aka Helen Keller) got us lost and the kids started freaking out and begging us to turn around and head for the tram. But we righted ourselves, and before long caught a glimpse of Squaw Village, a tiny toy train town far off in the distance.
By then we’d been hiking four hours. Exhausted, we gingerly side-stepped down the sheer granite cliffs until finally, our ears perked up at the sound of gurgling water. A series of eight-to- ten waterfalls cascaded over rocks and boulders. We stopped at one and jumped into a bubbling pool, re-energized by the chilly snow melt water…
As we curved through a dense section of forest toward the bottom, Saxon said, “Hey, guys, I have a confession.”
“What?” we asked.
“You know that guy’s beer? I kicked it off the cliff.”
“What? What were you thinking?” we chided.
“I’m sorry,” Saxon said sheepishly .
“Well, please tell us you drank it first,” Jimmy replied.
“No, I thought it was buried like you do at the beach with an empty can,” Saxon explained.
“Man! That poor guy. He was probably so looking forward to that ice cold beer before his ride back down the mountain,” we chided. “You should have come clean.”
We limped the last mile back to the village, and scored a table at the sushi restaurant where we pounded Arnold Palmers, and frosty Sapporo, and all the water we could drink.
Sorry, nice photographer guy. Saxon owes you a 12-pack of Silver Bullets.
Or at least a Dirty Snow Angel.