Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Blackmare Became Stump Lake Days 3 and 4

I got the side of the tent next to some young trees. 

Without the mesh keeping them out, the branches would have entered the tent. 

Getting out was tricky, but at least I had some snow free space. 

Ambrose's side of the tent opened almost directly onto the snow pile. 

We headed down from Stump Lake on day 3, rather than stay another night, because we wanted to be able to get to the car early on day 4. 

Hiking through snow is hard, but I still delight in seeing mounds of snow in June. 

A melt revealed the trail. 

But the snow covered it up again. 

Okay, I was getting a little tired of the snow by this point. 

A bird egg!

Ambrose walking off in the wrong direction (as he soon figured out from the GPS). 

Ah ha! Snowless trail at last!

Not so fast... More snow here. 

Made it to the campsite about two miles from the trailhead. Plenty of time to go all the way back to the car, but where would the fun be in that? 

I am inordinately proud of this pitch. 

Ready to head out the next morning. 

I did the speed hiking, mostly because I wanted to get to the toilet. 

Some high water on the trail - good thing there's a small bridge. 

Made it back to the car!

Usually, I like to rinse off in this creek after a trip here, but the water was way too high. 

There are usually visible rock slabs here instead of rushing water. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Blackmare Lake? 2017 Days 1 and 2

We planned on going to Blackmare Lake, but we had also prepared ourselves for the possibility that it wouldn't be possible with the snow levels.

Starting out from Kennally Creek Campground a couple hours before sunset. 

Less than a mile out, okay, maybe a little closer to sunset than I thought. 

We camped after the first junction, but before the trail started to head uphill. 

Heading out to Blackmare Lake! Will we make it? 

Hiking up towards the sunrise. 

Still a bit chilly even though the sun is fully up. 

I've never seen this crossing so deep. Usually we can rock hop it, but this trip the crossing was boots off. 

The huckleberries were nowhere near ripe. 

Snow! On the ground! I still get excited seeing that. 

Ah, more snow. Over the trail. That's okay. 

Time to head up the no trail and find out if we're going to Blackmare. 

It's hard to see from this picture, but the answer is "Nope". The trail heading down has snow on it, and a slip from that trail would land us on some rocks. We both agreed it wasn't a good bet. 

But that doesn't mean we turned back! On to Stump Lake!

Usually this trail has a couple easy little step over creeks. Not this time! 

We managed to keep our boots on, but it wasn't always easy. 

The snow continued to increase as we hiked higher and higher. 

Lovely little snow well. 

I found the trail! After I lost the trail and took us haring off to high ground away from the snow for a while. 

We made it to Stump Lake!

And the only place clear and flat enough to pitch a tent was the same small space that we used when we ended up here last time in 2014. Also on the way to Blackmare Lake, but from the other direction. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Backpacking Dinner

Long backpacking trips have a way of changing the way you feel about our place in the world, the way you act within it. A 7 day trip is no thru hike, but that doesn't diminish its ability to effect change.

Frankly, by night 5, you can get a little feral.

You know that the polite thing to do is wait patiently for dinner to be ready to eat. To be comradely with your companion. But the veneer of society wears thin, and the filthy clothes you wear only reinforce your knowledge that you no longer conform to those ideals. They are far way, in time and place.

The banter grows biting.

Well, perhaps nipping is the better word. You are, after all, in the same tribe. You don't actually want to attack each other; this is just about the competition for food. The desire to assert yourself in the hopes that the other might concede a larger portion once it's ready to eat.

You do chores to fill the time of the wait. The sleeping pads inflate with too much speed and you have too much time left to wait yet and are now lightheaded to boot.  Your stomach doesn't rumble, it contracts, squeezing tight against nothing in peculiar pain. It's almost more like an itch than an ouch.

But any sensation taken too far can resemble pain.

Your partner conveniently forgets to tell you that he doesn't have your spork until after you sit down - and until less than a minute remains in the wait time. And this, after you lovingly made him a Nuun to drink once he got to the top of the saddle.

You'd tell him to get it for you if you thought that would work, but you know it won't, so you heave your weary bones up and scramble for the spork that you put away in the tent as part of your chores. Just before you sit down, the timer goes off, the signal that whether the food is ready to eat or not, it will be eaten.

A snarl almost escapes your lips as your partner takes the food into his own lap. Instead of snarling, you merely correct the positioning of the hat doubling as a cozy for your freezer bag packed rehydrated chicken and rice. It's the first time you both have tried this dinner, but it won't be the last.

Quite possibly, the food's savor was improved by seasoning of hard work and hunger. But you've had bad ones before, and hunger can't change the flavor that much.

The food, which did appear to be a greater quantity than the two of you could possibly eat, disappeared in a fast exchange of spoonfuls and slurps, leaving you both looking for more.

Not necessarily because you needed more - the food was filling and would be more so as the not-quite-fully-rehydrated rice finished expanding in your stomachs - but because the food was so good. So exactly the hot, salty, chewy experience you wanted in the indeterminable waiting.

But now it's gone, and the sun, already passed below the nearest ridge, is truly setting. You and your full belly just want to crawl into the tent and sleep, nestled in the warmth of a sleeping bag that smells almost as bad as you do - so it's a good thing you can't smell it anymore.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Skillern June 2017 Days 2 and 3

Heading for a morning dip in the hot spring. 

It's definitely still hot. 

Looking up at the trail on the route to the pool. 

If I didn't know there was a pool around the corner, I might not walk this way.

Ambrose knows where the pool is. 

The hot water cascading down into the smaller-than-I-remember-but-still-satisfying pool. 

I don't remember if this sign for Skillern Hot Springs used to be here or not. 

The water is definitely running higher than I've seen before. 

Ambrose red-dy to head for the car. 

Some of my favorite flowers near Skillern Creek. 

Skillern Creek is also flowing pretty high. 

A lovely day for a hike - quite unlike our hike out. 

The view from the high road of the trail. 

Here I haven't yet realized that I need to plug the drain with the wooden dowel provided at what used to be a secret and hidden roadside hot spring... 

But now it is labeled by a sign. It's still a nice treat, but now I can't make the spring a surprise for anyone like my first visit was.