There are three ways to get to the Ross Lake Resort. One is via boat, truck, and a little more boat. This is the option you would choose if you happen to be in charge of the cooler probably.
You can get there by hiking and a little bit of boat. You would choose this option if you particularly like old, fast boats or particularly dislike heights and are not in charge of the cooler.
The third way to get to the Ross Lake Resort is by walking the whole way. You would choose this option if you particularly like walking over disconcertingly tall man-made structures or have a particular affinity for doing everything the hard way. The Engineer identifies with both and managed to not be in charge of the cooler.
If you chose the third way, you’d leave the truck and walk about a mile down to the Ross Dam, where you might peer tentatively over the sheer edge with your rigidly outstretched arms braced on the seems-too-low-to-reliably-keep-you-from-plunging-to-your-death concrete wall.
You would NOT become one of those people who dies taking a dam selfie.
From the dam, you would see across the short expanse of lake several small cabins floating along the far shore. You might think to yourself that you can imagine a quaint Scandinavian fishing village looking just like that.
When you step off the dam, without even a hint of irrational relief, and onto the far shore you’d follow the trail up. You might huff to yourself that the cabins are at lake level and that you don’t see the utility of the trail switchbacking so far UP. You may be forced to acknowledge at that point that you’re a bit hangry.
If you happen to be walking this trail at dusk, you may come face to face with a rather assertive toad in the middle of the trail. This toad may stare you down boldly as though she’s sure she’ll win this stand off. She’d be right of course, and you’d click your headlamp on as you tip-toed tentatively around her, trying not to make eye contact.
You probably wouldn’t glance briefly up the steep slope and think of cougars as the light continues to fade.
Eventually, the trail would fork to the right and you’d switchback down to the elevation at which you started with absolutely no trace of irrational indignation.
You may, depending on the level of the lake, scrabble down the scree left between the high water line and the patchwork of floating docks that hold the little cabins. You’d almost certainly be greeted with a hearty, “Welcome!” as though the stranger sitting outside the first cabin has been waiting for you.
If you’re very lucky, a group of warm and funny people will be waiting for you. You’ll be handed a beer and a plate piled high with something delicious. Depending on your perspective, you may be coming “home” (in a manner of speaking) to these people, or you may just feel that way. Either way, you’ll spend the evening laughing over silly anecdotes and shared memories (though new to you, you’ll feel included).
You’ll likely fall gratefully into the almost-too-short single bunk bed (definitely-too-short if you’re the Engineer) and sleep for 8 hours without moving.
If your luck continues, you’ll wake up and sip coffee that is your favorite everywhere, but tastes especially good from a splintery Adirondack chair on the narrow strip of dock. You’ll listen to the lap of gentle waves under the floating docks and marvel at the view that reminds you so strongly of the most magical place you knew as a child that it will make you scan the far shore for a glimpse of Bigfoot.
You might take a cold, noisy ride on a definitely seaworthy plywood fishing boat. You could, again if you were very lucky, spend an afternoon conquering a 1000-piece puzzle with new friends. You may, if you’re a little less lucky, discover that the second-hand 1000-piece puzzle is in fact a 999-piece puzzle. You’ll still feel a sense of accomplishment and high-five your new friend because you so cleverly identified the missing piece together rather early on.
Perhaps you’ll read some of the three books you carried in, but only a little because you’ll be repeatedly drawn into interesting conversations. You’ll very likely relish the absence of cell phone service and internet.
If you’re smart, and of course you are, you’ll savor every moment in this special place. You’ll hope, somewhat fervently, that you’ll have the opportunity to come back next year.