I hiked past the unfortunately-named Nuclear Lake today, with no ill effects. Here is a little blurb about it from the linked website:
I know what you’re thinking. Why would I ever want to visit a place called Nuclear Lake? Well, let me set your mind at ease. The only reason it’s even called Nuclear Lake (you’re going to think this is so funny when you hear it), is that in 1972, a chemical explosion blew out two windows in the experimental nuclear research lab that used to sit on the shore of the lake, blasting an unspecified amount of bomb-grade plutonium across the lake and surrounding woods.
See? I bet you thought it was something bad.
Okay, so maybe it doesn’t sound that fantastic. But the trails around the lake were extensively tested, cleaned and declared safe many years ago, and who am I to argue with all those Geiger counters? I’m sure they dumped plenty of kitty litter and sawdust on top of that plutonium. To visit the place, you’d never know anything untoward had happened at all.
I was at the shelter alone until, one by one, a friendly group of four Springer NOBOs showed up, Weather (an Aussie), Bumblebee, Tomahawk (Serbian?), and Timeout. They had been hiking together for some time now and had an easy camaraderie with each other. They were all funny in their own ways. The two women had taken a swim in the lake earlier and the guys were teasingly trying to make them feel nervous about it, telling Tomahawk she didn’t need her headlamp tonight since she would probably be glowing on her own.
Bumblebee needed to get off the trail temporarily in a few days to attend a wedding and Timeout also had some commitment to attend to. They spent a lot of time considering several options of how they all might meet up again afterwards somewhere up the trail to continue hiking together. I do enjoy the company of friends, and I also appreciate the potential for symbiosis in these trail companionships, but their discussion made me glad that I had no onerous obligations to attempt to accommodate anyone else’s schedule.