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586 Summer Stories
Gem Lake Stunts

gem lake cliffs

Last summer, two families from Tennessee joined us during our Rocky Mountain National Park vacation. On the last day before one of the families was leaving, we made an easy hike to Gem Lake. Ben, the two year old, would enjoy playing on the shores of the shallow lake.

A good number of hikers were already on the sandy shore of the lake when we arrived. Across the lake were a group of young adults (lower twenties) who were having a good time trying to establish girl-boy relationships.

After a short while we noticed the group from across the lake trying to scale a ridge leading to the highest point of the cliffs above the lake. The cliffs encircle the area leaving the lake in a bowl. We had climbed the ridge before and knew that it was a fun scramble on good rock.

I guess the scrambling was not hard enough for one of the young men as he then decided to try to climb down the cliff to the lake. The going was easy as he followed a grove for twenty or so feet; but soon the grove spilled out onto a steep or overhanging cliff. Our young adventurer carefully moved back and forth across the cliff looking for a route.

Back at the lake, almost everyone was gawking at the foolhardy efforts of the scrambler. It was as if we were at a circus. The young man seemed to be playing to the crowd.

I tried not to look at the scrambler. He was crazy to try such a stunt, I was not going to encourage him by being his audience. And, no, I did not video his youtube worthy efforts.

Two of our friends, who are doctors, were already thinking of the gear they had in their packs to treat broken bones and more. They didn't like that the kid was trying death defying feats; but they still were doctors and ready to treat the injuries.

Maybe it was because he started losing his crowd gathered on the shore or perhaps a bit of reasoning slipped into his head; but finally the scrambler reversed his route and returned to the ridge top.

Our group, still sitting by the lake, talked about the young man's stunt, when we were interrupted by a commotion from the other side of the lake.

Scrambler was now being dared to jump in the lake for a swim. Once again he played to the crowds; but saw that the reaction of the crowd was not as 'awe' inspiring. Swimming in a shallow, stagnant lake (it has no inlet or outlet) did not draw as much attention as a death defying deed like attempting to climb down an overhanging cliff wearing sports sandals. Personally, I watched with amusement as he played the ham at swimming in the brown water.

We all have tried and still try crazy things in our life. Being on the edge brings a thrill of adrenaline to our souls. If you are merely trying to tempt fate, make sure that you will be able to accomplish the deed and reap the accolades of your skill and bravery. If instead you just want to do something a little crazy, try swimming across a cold, shallow, mountain lake - it will at least make an old mountaineer smile!

Happy daring trails


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