We pick our way down the steep trail of rocks and hardened sand, packed and dry with lack of rain. Some rocks give way under foot, skittering down the sloped parts of the trail to a cut channel that could easily be filled with a rivulet of running water. It is as though we are walking on a dried up river bed that once guided a rush of water beneath the green canopy, cutting around tree trunks, down and down, towards the lake somewhere beyond the forest.
It is not too far in, just a couple of twists along the descending path, a bear print or two, and then we can see it, a sapphire ribbon through the trees. The trail fans into a sandy skirt that spills out beyond the scrub at the edge of the forest onto a long strip of beach. It stretches away to the right of the trail, ending in a point where the land scoops around to form the bay. To the left, the green water of a wide river meets the dark blue of the lake. Overhead the sky is a clear, pale blue, the heat of the sun masked by cool breezes off the lake.
The beach is deserted except for the skeletal remains of sun-bleached trees washed up on shore, their branches bristling at the water's edge. Sticks as far as the eye can see.
The dogs are in heaven.