How Deep Lake transformed into my special place | Places of Identity

At first, my mom had to drag me to go — and then I started appreciated the nature around me.

Editor’s note: Enumclaw Middle School students wrote essays about how places around the Plateau shaped their identity. Six essays have been selected to be published in the Courier-Herald at the end of the month, every other month; they have been minimally edited to retain the author’s voice. This is the first of the six essays.

I breathe out a contented sigh, enjoying the feeling of Deep Lake’s rough sand beneath my shifting feet. The peaceful noises of small ripples meeting the shoreline contrast with the chaotic shouts of children at the playground nearby. Everything feels less important here, with the same breeze blowing through my hair that is blowing those crisp reddish-orange autumn leaves off of the trees. I glance around, wondering where my parents and sister are, until SPLASH! My sister runs toward the lake, flip-flops smacking against her feet, then throws her whole body underwater. She emerges a few seconds later with another splash, dripping wet and shivering, yet still triumphant. After moving forward in a manner that is half walking, half hopping, she throws a piece of wood as far as she can, then swims back.

My sister made us come to Deep Lake today. Our grandmother’s dog had just died, the one we had grown up spending time with, cuddling his scratchy fur and accidentally bumping our cheeks against his damp nose. She wrote his name on a piece of wood and decided she wanted to send her “eco-friendly” memorial of him out into the lake. It was natural for us to come here, since we have been going here as long as we had known our grandmother’s dog. Practically our whole lives.

When we were younger, every time we complained to our mother that we were bored, she would promptly have us hop in the car and drive to Deep Lake, which we used interchangeably with “Nolte State Park”. Pressing my face against the cool window, I would gaze out at the brilliant emerald greens of the trees rushing past. When we arrived, the first thing on my agenda was rushing through the parking lot to get to the playground. I’d smell the damp earthy scent of the wood chips before hearing them crunch softly under my feet. Looking back on it, the sprint was not worth it, since the extra playground time it gave me was spent doubled over, breath heavy and cheeks rosy. Just as I began tediously scaling the five-foot ladder, allowing the bars to cool down the warmth my brief bit of exercise had allowed me, my mom and sister would arrive, prepared to drag me away to the trail around the lake.

Although the play yard was what I looked forward to most fervently, looking back on my earlier memories of this place, what I remember most fondly is this trail. We would begin, gravel crunching under our feet a little more crisply than the woodchips did.

I’d skip ahead, tiny hand in tinier hand, coming up with the most imaginative plotlines we could. One tradition we had was to pretend evil henchmen were chasing us, and as we made our way through the loop, every few minutes we would grab one of the ferns and pull off their thin rough leaves. We would immediately begin to scatter them on the ground behind us as a barrier between us and those faceless hunters.

Once we were at about halfway, we reached a particular spot where the aroma of pine trees was lessened by the stronger smell of dirt hanging in the air. The origin of this scent is a tree that had been overturned long ago, its roots facing outwards towards the trail. We loved this tree for two reasons: One, it provided a second jungle gym for us to traverse. And two, we frequently found little trinkets hidden within crevices that we gladly took home, resulting in what was forever known after that as the Treasure Tree.

After completing our walk we would head down to the beach and spend a couple of minutes enjoying the view of the lake that has light bouncing off of its greenish blue surface. We would then end our trip walking back to the car – with a brief detour at the playground once more.

Although I began going to this special place with some reluctance, I believe that I wouldn’t enjoy spending time outside as much as I do now. Walking along that trail made me appreciate the wonders nature has to offer, and it also strengthened my bonds with my sister. We don’t go to Deep Lake as often anymore, as my family is very busy, but when we do, I am instantly transported back to when I was younger, and recall all of the peaceful happy memories I have here.