After four plus hours of steady uphill which included several snack breaks, a couple rewindings of a fishing reel that got caught on some brush, and one shoeless creek crossing, we began to emerge from the seemingly interminable forest.
West Oval Lake was our destination and we had made it! But wait, not quite. You see, my modus operandi for choosing a campsite in wilderness areas where dogs can roam freely and tents can be placed anywhere is a little different than most. Most people would be thrilled to camp at the shores of an alpine jewel of a lake. Back at the “ranch” I can see neither sunrise nor sunset from anywhere on our property save the very peak of our roof. So, when backpacking, I want to have views. This usually means an additional 2 to 3 hundred foot scramble. It is so important to me that I have been known to sherpa both my pack and my (tired and arguably saner) partner’s pack to the choicest of tent sites.
If one does the math: Let’s say you have just climbed 3,300 feet in elevation. Then, 300 more feet is a mere 1/11th of the entire hike. Of course, this will inevitably mean another trip down to fill up water bottles and bladders, but for me at this point I am completely energized by the surreal mountain splendor.
The days are long this time of year in the Northern Hemishpere which gives plenty of daylight for campsite layout and setup. Tent leveled here, kitchen splayed out over there, and food bags hung high and out of reach from critters large and small. As it turned out, a snow-melt stream meant that a water source was significantly closer than the lake we had passed along the way. So, that was quite literally a load off!
Oh, and was it good to get the stiff boots off and exchange them for some lightweight “barefoot” runners! Good too for the fragile flora which have a tough enough time thriving with a scant four month growing season.
My beloved larches (laryx lyallii), a deciduous conifer that turns bright gold in fall, forming their cones. Ah, home truly is where the heart is!