A Legend in the Making

So Near, So Far to the Lakes

Story and Photos by Elise Barker

It’s just a couple miles to the Bench Lakes from here,” a young man who worked at the Redfish Lake dock said as he pointed to a dotted trail on the map. He was so tan his teeth seemed to glow. “After you hop off the boat shuttle and walk up this hill, you’ll be staking your tent in no time.”

It was 3 p.m., a late start for our family of three to begin a backpacking trip, but we were lulled into complacency by the young man’s assurance that it would be easy. As we bounced up and down on the water, the lake spray hitting our faces and the breeze rustling our hair, we assured ourselves, “We’re adventurous people, we’re experienced hikers. Sam may only be two, but he’s hiked two miles tons of times this summer. This is what we do and our kid won’t slow us down.”

By the time we started switch-backing our way up the bench, the afternoon light had taken on a warm, golden, evening-ish glow, partially from the nearby fires, but also because it was getting late. The haze from the fires made Mount Heyburn seem larger, like a hologram. After hiking for a mere eighth of a mile, Sam stopped and plopped down on the trail, in full sun. “I want juice!” His little khaki pants and white shirt were patterned in mud stains and dust marks. Somehow, a shoe print had gotten on his shirt. His hair was dusty from throwing rocks and dirt. I resisted the urge to stop him from dipping his grubby hands into the sandwich bag to get his snack of dried apples.

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Elise Barker

About Elise Barker

Elise Barker teaches English at Idaho State University. She is currently planning the second year of an intensive hands-on Harry Potter summer camp for kids ages eleven to seventeen through ISU’s Continuing Education. If she gets to the end of the day and hasn’t done something Instagram-worth, she rouses herself and creates a memory.

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