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2nd Place (tie) in the Mary Austin Prize for Writing contest
Lyndsey Rowan
Bishop High School

More often than not, people have to travel great distances to be one with nature. However, sometimes a community is blessed with nature being right out their front door. Bishop is one of those communities. Around this time of year, the weather gets nippy, the days get shorter, the trees change color. Fall is a special time, especially here in the Eastern Sierras. My family and I decided to go on a short hike to Grass Lake, so we could admire the fall colors.
I could tell it would be an amazing hike before we even got out of the truck. The parking lot is about a 25 minute drive from our house; I enjoyed every second of it. As we went up, the sagebrush transitioned into evergreens, which then included aspen trees. Aspen trees are a very special kind of tree. What appears to be an entire forest of aspens could just be a few dozen individual trees. The vast majority of the forest would be made up of each individual’s clones. The more we progressed up the hill, the more yellow, red, and orange we began to see.

Immediately after we stepped out of our truck, we were almost blown over. Jackets were put on and hoods went up. However, the scenery definitely made up for the wind. All around us were valleys of yellow trees and cliffs of gray and red rock. Thin, wispy clouds drifted over us in a bright blue sky. Once we finished admiring the beauty of our surroundings, we made a new friend. Right outside of the parking lot was a marmot, making his way down a heap of reddish-white rocks. He paused towards the bottom, on a flat rock. He stared at us, not showing the slightest hint of fear. Then, he turned to his left, just a little bit, moving into the perfect position for a picture. Mom said he was showing us his good side. The notion of the marmot doing that was pretty funny.

We walked about half of a mile on a dusty dirt road before we even stepped onto the trailhead. Upon entering the trail, I instantaneously felt a sense of wonder. There was a blanket of yellow leaves on the trail, guiding the way. Aspen trees gently encompassed our path, and the faint sound of a trickling stream was audible. In a single file line, we started our trek to the lake.

As I made my way up, I was in awe. I had never been anywhere so serene. I had this thought that was consistent throughout the hike “If fairies are real, they would probably live here.” Aspen trees weaved in and out of one another, making nooks and crannies that small creatures could live in. Small brooks and streams flowed from a larger creek into some of these crannies, providing water to drink from. The golden leaves fluttering across the trail could be made into fairy clothes. It was a lovely idea. Slowly, dry pine needles began to integrate themselves into the leaves on the ground as we progressed. The switchbacks began and continued on, leaving me short of breath on some occasions.

Finally, after climbing for a mile or so, we reached Grass Lake. It was accurately named, for it was surrounded by grass, whispering in the wind. Directly across the lake from us was a patch of trees that stood out to me. The very top of each tree was red, then as you went down the leaves turned orange, then yellow. The wind was still cold, but it was gusty, and in between the gusts you could feel the sweet warmth of the sun on your back. We stayed there, watching waves in the water and eating our snacks for about an hour. Then we headed back, happy with our experience.

(Lyndsey Rowan is a freshman at Bishop Union High School. She moved to Bishop with her mom, dad and younger brother a little over four years ago. Lyndsey has a cat named Willow and a dog named Apollo. The two sports she likes to play are volleyball and softball. Her favorite subjects in school are English, science and math. Her favorite places to be are Bishop and the Pacific Ocean.)

Photo by @joannepederson on Instagram

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