I charge up the trail, feeling optimistic. It is a cloudy, cool Monday, and there aren't a lot of vehicles at the trailhead. During the summer I avoid this trail. It's short and starts at a campground; on a weekend day there are hundreds of people here.
Those of us who live here often recreationally complain about tourists: the traffic! clogged trails! the "resort tax"! It seems ridiculous that you usually can't find a parking spot at Logan Pass in the park after 10 am in the summer, despite acres of asphalt. At the same time, we know there are perks we enjoy because of them, like an airport with lots of flights, good restaurants, and a great ski area. Still, the time in between the summer and winter tourist crowds is a welcome break.
I only encounter a few people on the trail, and can move fast. I arrive at the lake, amazed as always by how different it looks in different seasons.
On the way down, that's when I start seeing them: the tourists! At least thirty of them tromp up the trail. One guy wears a Russian style fur hat; one girl has elected to hike in Uggs. Some anxiously inquire how much farther it is to the lake. I wonder why they are here, in the gloomy, rainy autumn we are having. I'd like to think they are the adventurous ones, traveling in the off-season, not following the herd.
The winter skiers will be here soon, and the hikers will leave. Those of us who live in the valley appreciate the lull, but we know why they come here. All we need to do is look around us.