Two days at Butte Lake now; three weeks ago, when I started my trip I mentioned signs that eras were closing, and here they are again. The first: Spontaneous camping trips to long favored locales will require planning, contradictory as that obviously is. Most of the former First Come-First Served campsites have been converted to the reservation system; my good fortune is that my favorite site here is not one of them and I was able to move right in. But the number of such sites has shrunk so that care will need to be taken as to time of day and day of week to arrive as time goes on. I realize that a bit of research would show me areas of national forests and BLM land where people can just show up and pretty much camp wherever they please. But my habits and the places that require frequent visits because I love them so have become sufficiently fixed that I lack the motivation to change. I think I’ve learned enough about the ways of these places that in the remaining years I’ll be camping I’ll do fine as long as I plan well. Nonetheless, I don’t like the feel of what this era’s ending means. I still remember my first visit to an NPS camp 30+ years ago and being stunned to discover the need for reservations and the existence of check-in and check-out times; now I find it’s become nearly universal. I will adapt but I don’t doubt that a fully scheduled world will be an inferior one. The second passing era, which I may talk about too much, is climatic and I wouldn’t mention it now except that it too has manifested here at Butte Lake. In the 8-10 years I’ve been coming the Lake has always been at a constant level; snowmelt and perhaps springs bring water in and Butte Creek in the northeast corner of the Lake drains it out. When balanced, as I‘ve always known it, it makes for both a lovely little lake nestled among forest and lava flows and a lovely little stream flowing merrily away. Now the level is down about 4’ vertically and the Creek outlet is 50’ beyond the water. So early in the year—what will it be like at summer’s end? I don’t think I’ll come to find out. Lastly, the era of depending on my feet and legs to take me wherever I wanted to go in mountain or desert seems also to be approaching its terminus. Forty-five years of taking them for granted, piling up miles, have taken a toll and they and the heart that fuels them want rest, or so they seem to be saying. I always knew I’d die but think I assumed I could hike to the funeral. So, it goes. Eras pass, but I wonder that they seem mostly to pass into inferior new states. Those that break this rule are mostly material—horse-and-buggy replaced by car and airplane, for instance, assuming that all things considered these constitute a net gain. New eras of racial harmony, economic justice, or other societal ethical improvements never quite arrive or survive the opposition’s hostility and avoidant maneuvers. Enough. I sound gloomy and am not. The smell of warming pine trees and the surrounding duff is one of my favorites and it’s in the air. I’ll be here till tomorrow and glad for it.

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