August 1969, standing at the top of Taylor Pass in the Collegiate Peaks with my dad, looking down on Taylor Lake. In the little patch of trees at the far left of the lake, my mother waits while Daddy and I go on to the top. Apparently she really liked it there, because when we got back she mentioned casually that someday she’d like to have her ashes scattered here. I don’t think she was serious as she didn’t really care much what happened to her body after she left. I don’t have her ashes anymore. I had no idea where this lake was, and my grandmother asked from her deathbed to have Mom’s ashes buried with her. Of course, I did. I didn’t think I’d ever know where to take them anyway.
Fast forward half a century. Now we have computers, smartphones, GPS navigation and Google Earth. Poring over the aerial images and comparing them to old photos and my mom’s letters, I was able to identify Taylor Lake! There’s no way I can get the ashes back and I wouldn’t if I could. It eased my grandmother’s mind that Mom would be at rest with her. Mom would definitely have approved. But I do have a treasured keepsake. My own pair of dark little-girl braids, from my 12-year-old head. A golden brown braid from Mom, and a silver one from my grandmother, all wrapped in a yellowed newspaper from 1964.
Today, August 19, 2019, almost exactly 50 years later, I set out for Taylor Lake. There’s a small envelope in my pack bearing a braid of commingled brown, gold and silver locks, tied with a white ribbon. I haven’t decided exactly what I’ll do with it or what I’ll say when I do it. Hopefully I’ll know what to do when I get there.
Here are some of the photos from that long ago trip. I’m hoping to duplicate a few of them this week, alas, not without the original subjects. But they’ll be with me in my heart.