Saturday, August 27, 2016

Lake Everly July 2016 - Day 5

Breakfast was a rehydrated creme brulee. Ambrose was saving it for the last day as a treat but I was losing my enthusiasm for this particular dessert breakfast. It was just too creamy, too sweet for first thing in the morning. Still, I needed the calories to get me through the day so I chowed down.

Good morning camp!
And then I rolled into the routine of packing and preparing to leave the campsite. I'm the one that carries the tent so I can't ever finish packing until the tent is struck. Ambrose, on the other hand can finish packing as soon as I had him his sleeping pad that I am nice enough to roll up for him.

The sun's not very high yet.
We got everything ready to go but our boots. Since we had to cross the Queens River right away, we would put our boots on on the other side.

First part of the crossing.
We left camp around 7 and braved the icy morning waters of the river. This crossing is the most complex one on the loop, requiring a midstream climb onto a grassy island and then a second crossing of very deep water that, thankfully, has a very sluggish current.

On the grassy island.
I took a shallower route than Ambrose did because crotch high water on him would be pack wetting on me.

A little too deep for my tastes.
Then we booted up and parted ways. I had to stop pretty soon after that though because there were huckleberries along the trail I wanted to take pictures of. Sadly, I couldn't eat them, because they were green.

Green huckleberries. Tragic!
I didn't take the time to drink from my water bladder and I hardly took the time to take pictures. I was in go mode and I didn't want to pause any more than necessary. I passed the place where I fell and hit my knees without falling again and I chose a different route over a particularly high log than I had last time, all the while maintaining safe and careful speed.

Chasing the sunrise in the early part of the day.
By the time I decided to start drinking, I discovered my bite valve had fallen off. Rather than turn back and try to figure out where it slipped off I hoped Ambrose would pick it up and that if he didn't my good deeds of packing out other trash would balance the transgression of leaving the valve behind.

Making good progress through flowers and trees.
I watched the sun crest the ridge and paint the meadows I crossed with golden color. I found a bandanna at a stream and decided to pack it out - after I finally wet my own buff to cool my head.

Here comes the sun.
The next river crossing was boots off, no question about it. I set about the task as fast as I could. I was hoping to get back to the car before noon or even before eleven. The closer to 4 hours the better. While I hiked the small section to the next crossing, I thought about whether I'd go boots off again. I didn't want to.

My favorite flower in bloom.

The burned area has become so much greener. 

Abundant flowers. 
And when I arrived at the crossing,I decided to try something different. Instead of boots off through that fresh dirt, I would attempt a log crossing.

Even more flowers! 

Perhaps fleabane. Definitely pretty.

The rockslide that surprised me on my solo trip two years ago has also grown a lot of greenery.

Log crossing?
There were two logs close to the crossing that might suit my purpose. Both were recently fallen but one, the narrower one, had fewer branches sticking out which would allow me to hump across instead of trying to walk it.

Crawling on that log may have cost me more time than doing the good old boots off would have, but I did it and without getting the insides of my boots wet. Though there were some nervous points. I put my trekking poles in my pack side pocket while straddling the log and at first tried to stay upright as I scooted across. But the log was too close to the water so I had to lean forward and hook my feet up behind to keep them out of the water. When I reached the far side, I had to use the tree's roots to help me stand and then clamber over them to reach the bank. Once there, I needed to get to firm ground so I walked a bit downstream and then up the far bank and over to the trail again where I took a moment to snack.

Sure. Totally crossable.
The roots took my weight.
The embankment, on the other hand, slid under my feet. A hard scramble up across and up. 
After that, I redeployed my trekking poles only to discover that one of the tips had snapped. At the time I thought it was just the replaceable metal tip, but it was a good two inches more than that. I continued to use it that day but got rid of it when we got home.

I knew a couple tough downed trees were coming up so I didn't go too fast at first. Once I passed those two puzzles, without rebanging my knees I'm happy to report, I started to increase my speed.

Looking back at the crossing I skipped and the fallen tree that now obscures the path.
From that point on I was racing the clock. I wanted so badly to arrive before eleven and I needed to haul tail to do it. I hardly took pictures, especially after I passed the last trail junction. I was all go.

Fireweed, I think.
For a while, I thought I would make it. I was moving at a high rate of speed and I was almost there.

Except I wasn't.

Just a couple more hours of walking. 
The trail had tricked me. I had not one more stream to cross but three. Not one more meadow to pass but two. I pushed and pushed my pace as hard as I could without actually running. It wasn't enough to beat eleven am.

Is this the last wooded section? No. 

Is this the last grassy area? No. 
But I did arrive before noon. Well before in fact. And I drove the car to the campsite near the bathroom and settled in to wait for Ambrose to get his slow and steady self to the trail head.

I made it! 
He made it only ten minutes later than I had estimated. Not bad. I had eaten snacks, finished the water in my bladder, written my words for the day and taken a cleansing dip in the river before he got there so I was ready to start the drive home as soon as he changed clothes and got in the passenger seat.

Ambrose made it!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Lake Everly July 2016 - Day 4

We got an early start this morning. The plan was to head back and camp at Nanny creek so we wouldn't have a very long hike to get out the next day.

Good morning!

Bye bye campsite. 
At first, Ambrose said I should just go right from Everly to Nanny Creek at my full speed, but when we lost the trail in that wet spot the plan was revised to at least stick together through that section of trail. I figured we should just stay together to the same point we had on the way up and then I could zoom on.

We got up pretty early since the hike, even mostly downhill, would take most of the day. I was sad to be leaving Everly but glad to be on the move. Sometimes I feel like I don't know what to do on days when we don't hike or only hike for half a day.

I only dawdled a little that morning. We were on our way in good time, before the sun had fully risen over the valley. The waters of the lake weren't as blue at this time of day. Instead, they reflected the surrounding walls of rock and scree.

Everly in Everly. 

Still water reflecting near the outlet. 
We crossed the outlet easily enough, but I wasn't too keen on reversing the log crawl to get back to the trail. Instead, I used the edge of the snow bridge to make my way across. Now, using the snow bridge to cross the water would be a bad idea, but I made a judgment that the section I would be using was not only not directly over water but also so hard as to be more ice than snow. My tactic was successful at any rate and took about the same amount if time to finish as Ambrose's route over the tree.

Crossing the outlet.

Heading back to the pass. 
In the days since we had hiked up, the snow on the switchbacks had melted a lot. We didn't cut any of the switchbacks and I wasn't even sure which one we’d cut on the way up.

Distant peaks.

Less snow on the switchbacks. 

Less snow on the snowbridge.
The trail through the trees and into the lost wet meadow was easier to follow from this end. There was a big chunk of trail covered in snow that obscured the trail. We didn't get lost in the wet section exactly, but we weren't able to follow the trail exactly either. There was no clear indication of how the two pieces of trail joined but we found each end and went on our way.

Getting through the wet spot.
We took a break at the three way trail junction to snack and put on sunscreen and bug juice. I was done before Ambrose so I walked a short way down the trail to Benedict Creek. I'll be heading there for my solo hike and that will be the point that I'm closest to trail that I've hiked before.

Close to my solo trail.
And then I started off for the pass, leaving Ambrose behind for just a little portion of uphill trail. I made my way over some tricky fallen trees while he was still in sight, but then I put on full zoom speed and hiked in silence broken only by the sounds of nature and my footfalls.

Heading up to the pass at full speed. 
The pass came up on me quickly. I answered an urgent call of nature and then settled in to wait. And snack.

Ambrose walked up on me and kept on walking. He wasn't ready to take a break yet so I got to my feet, hauled my pack up and caught up to him. And soon passed him.

But I kept him in sight now, taking the role of leader rather than zoomer.

View from the top of the pass.

Coming around Mount Everly.
We retraced our steps through wet meadows, diverting from the trail when it was snow covered or submerged under boot deep water. All too soon, we crossed the Queens River for the first time that morning and were back on familiar ground.

Another side of Everly.

Snow and a body of water that probably isn't there when it's dry.

Almost back to the Queens River.
Anticipating a boots off next crossing soon, I stayed with Ambrose. But he had another idea. I was getting ready to drop my pack and get my boots off when he started making the crossing with his boots on. Now, I've done that, but I did it in mid-August, not mid-July.

Crossing number 1 of 4 on the day of the Queens River. 

Coming down.
He made it across without getting water in his boots so of course I had to follow suit. And the interior of my boots stayed dry too.

Crossing 2 of 4 on the day of the Queens River - who knew it could be boots off?
Next I shifted gears and began the serious zoom portion of my day.

I've hiked this section of trail, in this direction, several times before. I had a good idea of where I was as I made my way down to the horse camp and then the next Queens River crossing. I kept my eyes open for alternatives but ended up taking that one with boots off.

The next crossing seemed farther away on the way down than it had on the way up. Probably because I had to go slow-ish where the trail switchbacked steeply down rocky trail.

I know this trail. 

And this rock. I know this rock. 
The next crossing was the last of the day, and I settled into my pace. I kept an eye on the time so I would eat lunch at a reasonable time, but I had a place I wanted to reach before eating.

Crossing 4 of 4 on the day. (I was zooming too fast to take a picture at crossing 3.)
I call them the airplane rocks, because they are close to the river and when you sit on them the roar of the water is like the roar of an airplane. They are just past where the trail makes two right angle turns. I reached them in good time to eat lunch, but they were in full sun and the day was hot. So I walked on to a smaller, shaded rock, also near the water, and sat down to read and eat lunch.

Turning into the canyon that leads to Nanny Creek.

Much more relaxing to head downhill.
After I finally figured out that my kindle battery lasted loads longer with the backlight off, I was reading more on the trail, especially to pass time while waiting for Ambrose. I had finished a book the night before and didn't have another ready so I browsed through what Ambrose had downloaded and picked one that didn't seem too silly.

It managed to entertain me through lunch and I even got a little extra rest in order to finish a chapter. And then I was off again, well refreshed.

I tried to stick to my 30 minute plan of work and rest for the rest of the day. The scenery was constantly breathtaking but my body was tired and the heat was more than I could enjoy. Every time I wasn't near a stream, I thought about dipping my buff in cold water to cool off, but every time I actually passed water I didn't want to stop.

An under log for me - Ambrose probably had to duck even if he went around to the right.

Lovely paintbrushes. 

Not the airplane rocks. 
I pulled my map out periodically and kept track of my progress through the valley. I identified the feature that I call “the notch of false hope” (because you really want it to be Nanny Creek and it isn't). And the end of my day's hike seemed to go both fast and slow. I knew I was close on the map, but the terrain kept throwing more trail at me.

I picked up a lens cover that someone was surely missing so I could pack it out. I try to take trash out of the wilderness when I can.


The trail comes back to the river - I'm almost there. 
I got there a little after three and saw that someone had destroyed the firepit that used to be there - a good thing, because fires aren't allowed in the wilderness area except in a pot or on a blanket. I set up the tent and put my sleeping pad inside along with my kindle and some snacks. I needed some rest and recovery while the tent was in shade.

That notch is the correct one. 

No more fire pit at Nanny Creek!
About an hour and a half later, Ambrose showed up. He was worn out and needed water. I, being well rested by this point, did what I could to help him recover from the day's miles. I got water for him and blew up his sleeping pad while he got settled.

I made it!
We both hung out in the tent for a while before I got around to cooking dinner. We had chicken ala king again, and, for the first time, I didn't enjoy it fully. It turns out that in years past when Ambrose moved the contents of the canister to meal sized baggies he put it in a mixing bowl to make sure it got distributed evenly. This year he did not. And this night's dinner was clearly the bottom of the canister. There were pieces of chicken and celery that stayed hard and crunchy even after a ten minute boiling water bath. There were hardly any noodles in the bag at all.

I ate as much as I could and let Ambrose finish the rest - the first time ever that I've not contested the last bite of chicken ala king with him.

Not a bad pitch of the tent, though I've done better. 
After that I read until the sun was well below the ridge. Another advantage to leaving the backlight off on my kindle is that I have to go to bed once it's too dark to read. Although, since this was the last night, I cheated and turned the backlight on just a little and read to the chapter's end. But not til full dark. We had an early morning coming.