A Treasure Lost and Found

Posted by adventure 16 | 02.05.2020



rick harpers letter



While clearing out and dismantling our corporate offices and stores following the final closure of Adventure 16, an intriguing envelope marked "For the next Footprints" was found buried in a cabinet. Inside the envelope was a photograph and hand-written story authored by A16 employee, Rick Harper. Coincidentally, only a week earlier, Rick had reminisced that he had submitted an article many years ago for Footprints--A16's quarterly publication that was produced from 1973 to 2003--and that it had never been published.

Now, 17 years later, tucked away in a dusty cabinet, this hidden treasure still has a story to tell....


The Gift of Treasure Lake


The faint sound of metal scraping softly against rocks grabbed my attention. Is someone else here? As I hobbled up a granite slab to investigate, the pain in my knee reminded me of why I stayed behind.

The rest of the group were now seven black dots moving as a tiny mass flowing up the talus toward the snowfields above them that still cling to Bear Creek Spire. They are moving together since making good time. They will have a good climb.

The sound was coming from the food and trash bags hung from a boulder out of reach of marmots. The faint scraping sound and the occasional flap of tent fabric gave this place an air of loneliness. The wind was now trying to gain whatever warmth it lost to the snow fields directly from my body. The dots that represented my friends disappeared behind a ridge, the last I would see of them for over seven hours.

         "This place is a gift. I was staring across Treasure Lake.
           I don’t know how the lake got its name, but I know why
           I’ll remember it."


As I hunkered there feeling like a shut-in child, my little pity party was crashed by the realization that the only things that give this place a lonesome air are manmade sounds. Hey! This place is a gift. I was staring across Treasure Lake. I don’t know how the lake got its name, but I know why I’ll remember it. 

The beauty of this place is a treasure. I was resting on the thigh of Bear Creek Spire, the matron of Rock Creek.  She stands against the winds gathering storms and taking from them life-giving water and relinquishing it according to the needs of the season. She gives up her aging rocks to the same water to turn it into mineral-rich silt. Water and silt. Mountain milk. The milk that is the sustenance of all life in the valley below.

The sun is now reflecting off her face turning it gold. The glow is warming my chest and enlivening the world around me. Yes! This is truly a gift, a treasure.   –Rick Harper


rick and gang
Rick Harper (back row 4th from the left) and other A16'ers at the trailhead.