July 19, 2014
Why one of my trail names is Boomerang or u-turn.
I pulled the rain fly off my tent, made coffee and jumped back into my sleeping bag where I sipped my coffee and watched the dawning of a new day. The Eastern sky held one small innocent wispy cloud. There is nothing innocent about one small cloud in the Sierra. I had a good feeling that it would be raining by the early afternoon. With Hell For Sure Pass only 2 miles away I knew I could make the crest and descend into Goddard Canyon before it started to rain.
I met a group of people on the trail and we exchanged intel; him telling me about the best route up the pass and me giving a mosquito report. No one in his group had a tent. I made my way slowly up the faint trail to the pass, practically climbing on all fours stopping every few feet to scout for the trail; if you can call what I was on a trail! It was more like an uphill traverse through a creek bed craved into the side of the mountain.
I thought to myself, ” I wouldn’t want to climb down this in the rain.” ( ha ha stay tuned.) Near the crest I met 2 people coming down who had day hiked to the top. We chatted for a while about trails, packs and favorite hikes. They didn’t think it was going to rain; but I, I knew better.
I was on the top of Hell For Sure at 9:30, Mt Goddard looming in the distance. As I began my descent I could see the clouds gathering deep within the Eastern Sierra. Almost immediately I got a bad feeling in my gut. In places the trail, little more than a use path was difficult to find and required constant stopping and checking where I was. I rounded the bend and off in the distant The Hermit and Emerald Peak greeted me like a familiar friend. Those of you who have been in my house know that I have a picture I took from Evolution Lake that features The Hermit, Mt Spencer and Huxley.
Picture of The Trail to Hell….For Sure Pass that is!
Mt Goddard from Hell for Sure Pass
I continued my descent closely watching the gathering clouds all the while feeling like I should turn around. I was going to drop almost 2,000 feet into the canyon and I would be retracing my steps tomorrow. Suddenly, albeit incredibly beautiful with expansive views into Goddard Canyon and flower filled meadows, it didn’t seem worth it. The clouds continued to build, I had dropped about 1000 feet and I was on a very exposed ridge with at least another 3 miles to go. This storm could be the beginning of a new system which would make climbing back up the pass a bit risky.
On the other hand it could be a cloudless day tomorrow. I decided it was better to turn around, and told myself I could be back at the top of the pass by 12:30. I retraced my steps arriving at the pass at 11:57 just as the first rain drops began to fall. Now I found myself having to hike down the trail I had so recently thought I didn’t want to hike in the rain. It was raining. It was thundering. No lightening. Yet! I met two guys who were climbing up the pass, we exchanged brief hellos neither of us wanting to stop. By the time I got down the pass the steady rain turned into a gentle hail. I stopped under the shelter of a white bark pine and put my rain cover on my pack. Down the trail I rushed as the thunder continued to roar and echo. I knew lightening was not far behind and began looking for a suitable place to pitch my tent. I arrived back at Disappointment Lake,set up my tent during a one minute lull in the rain and dove inside my tent just as the first bolts of lightening hit. Inside my tent I changed into warm clothes, got inside my sleeping bag and ate my lunch accompanied by the pounding rain, thunder and occasional lightening.
It rained most of the afternoon. During the brief lulls in the angry storm I explored around the lake and watched the birds coming and going. By dinner the sky had cleared and I was treated to a stellar sunset and later alpine glow reflecting off Mt Hutton in the still waters of the lake. I went to bed with plans of climbing Red Mountain in the morning, making it back to camp by noon and then meandering down the trail to another campsite.
Disappointment Lake. Not much disappointing here.