Tennent Lake: A Watermark by Mike Knippel

I had started this hiking hobby about 4 years previous and it had grown naturally into sub alpine day adventures, then alpine multi day treks with some not-too-technical peaking. I knew I loved it and sort of knew why but never fully understood how it connected with the rest of my life. I had spent the previous 30 years on the world's oceans and now that seagoing days were over, my time was filled with fine views and ambience of Vancouver Island coasts and alpine. Around Canada Day, 2015, during a climb of Mt. Myra, the missing piece came into view.

Up on the last ridge approaching Myra's peak I had figured out that alpine trekking replaced the majestic solitude of gazing out on endless miles of ocean, blazing amber sunsets, and searching for the elusive green flash. It was a searing day that felt like 40 Celsius and although summiting and returning to the lake base camp had taken only about 8 hours, each in our party had gone through about 8 litres of water, and on the way back, my ultraviolet water filter had stopped working, so my wife and I were rationing. By the time we got back to Tennent Lake we were approaching dehydration but not quite there.

And that's when it came to me in a Kerouackian rush...weary resting on the gently sloping rocky bench that allows one to select their depth of soaking in the lake, I understood the lake was the ocean, the creeks and snowpack and glaciers of these mountains I love to hike were the ocean - clouds pick up moisture on their eastward journey, what they don't drop on those famous western Van Isle shores they consolidate during dew points drop as clouds gain altitude to continue their way, and they drop it in the mountains as snow or rain causing coursing creeks and trek-enabling pathways of ice and packed snow that flatten terrain, which in turn melt and make their way to fill tarns and lakes whose overflowing rims then push the water further down elevation, filling other lakes and rivers and streams and brooks, to make their way back to mother ocean. They carve the mountainscape and provide creek beds to climb avoiding rockier or bushier ascent lines. The oceans don't stop at shore's edge, they keep giving and shaping nature, they sculpt and nourish and keep us hydrated, they have purpose and compassion. These mountains where I ended up, lamenting a lifestyle now gone for me, were just the next ocean. I never left the ocean; the ocean never left me...I was still sailing across its horizons on mountains and ridges. Tennent Lake gave me this.

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