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August 1 & 2, 2015 East deep lake backpack- and creatures wiggly, loony, and canibalistic


It was a beautiful sunny afternoon -warm, but not the sweltering heat we were expecting-as Di, Scotty and Judy began the 8 km hike into East Deep Lake in RMNP on Saturday, August 1.

The only sightings on the way in were garter snakes and numerous piles of bear scat-although we were warned of a mother and cub a little farther up on the Packhorse trail.

The camp site at East Deep Lake was even nicer than we remembered it, with good views of the lake and its resident loons and a plentiful supply of dry firewood.

  Setting up camp revealed some poor planning on Judy's part.  The bottle of ice in her lunch cooler kept everything cold-but was ice no longer and had soaked everything but the tent and the sleeping bag, safe in its waterproof stuff sack.  A dry sleeping bag is the main thing, though, and we still had a few hours of drying time for the rest.

After  a dinner of veggies roasted on the fire,  the call of the loon had us speculating--where do the terms "loony" and "crazy as a loon" come from.  Turns out that when UK born Di thinks of them, she imagines them coming from the word "lunatic" (not having seen loons back home)  whereas Canuck Judy hears the maniacal cry of the loon.   Some research.  They do have these birds in the UK, but there they are called "divers".  Despite that, "loon" shows up in the 19th century as a slang word for "lunatic".  But other entries trace its origins in the USA to  Thoreau and others who use it tp  describe someone whose behaviour is reminiscent of the maniacal laughter  of the loon.  So, perhaps someone, on hearing the laughter of this bird  re-christened it "loon"?

Snakes continted to be out and  about-  a small black and yellow garter snake tied into a knot  basked in the sun on top of the woodpile:  a huge garter snake slithered into the bush in front of Di,  and I saw a small black snake neither of us had seen before-probably a"redbelly" (although he red belly wasn't visible to us).

On the way out, just after passing Eldon and Linda on a morning bike ride into East Deep Lake, the beautiful blue irridescence of a pair of dragonflies on the path caught our eyes. We were enthralled by the wildly wagging tail of the bottom insect, thinking that it signified the  height of  dragonfly passion, and speculating on what happened after consummation, when Di shouted, "I just saw it's head fall off".  And sure enough, the upper dragonfly had decapitated its victim and continued to suck the life out of the body. In shock,  and  thinking we would never view dragonflies in the same light again, we continued down the path, and less than 10  minutes later, came across the same scene being re-enacted.  Imagine how disconcerting it was for Di, then,  when we stopped at Lake Katherine and a dragonfly perched on her nose and clung there for at least half a minute!  No chewing happened, though! A bit of net surfing revealed numerous images of dragonflies consuming each other, and the conclusion that dragonflies will devour any insects, including each other! 

The East Deep Lake is a great getaway for novice backpackers- easy trail, beautiful campsite, and in rutting season, the best place I know to hear elk bugling!

Judy Bartel

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