A Welcomed Rediscovery

This lake has lived in my fantasies for a year now- no photos, no name, no exact location- just a five mile long glistening lake distinguished by ghost trees jutting out of the water at all corners and all across it. I drove past it last year but never thought I’d see this mysterious phenomenon again, and always regretted speeding past it in my car for in doing so I confined the vision to my indescribable memory… Without any context or way to find it again.

It turns out that every bicycle traveler riding on Adventure Cycling Association’s Transamerica Trail passes this lake. Traveling slowly by bike- and determined not to make the same mistake of speeding by again- I discovered the following from my map and from roadside information signs:

This is Quake Lake in the Gallatin National Forest, filled up from nothing over the course of three weeks after a 1959 earthquake altered the terrain and the flow of the river. Over the course of three weeks, the terrain changed from a dense forest to a lake with a depth of 190 feet at points. The water level falls a little every year (thanks to engineers and their mechanisms to get the water to trickle back into the river), which leaves ‘bathtub rings’ of dead trees on the shoreline as the water recedes. It’s an incredible sight and I wonder if this exists anywhere else in the world.

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