From the family vacation in Portland I flew to San Francisco and met Nancy’s cousin Andrew (for the first time) and Brian (Rich and Nancy’s son) …..We drove to the Rockbound lake trailhead and met Rich and Nancy and the 5 of us headed off on a four night backpack trip. Yup, that’s right I went backpacking with 4 other people. Backpacking with 4 other people is quite different than backpacking alone….when I’m alone I don’t laugh nearly as much as when I’m with others and when I’m with others I don’t contemplate and reflect as much as when I’m alone. And I also don’t write as much….. that being said, the story of this trip will be told more in pictures than in words.
The trailhead is located at 6,941 feet and even though we started hiking after 3:30 it was still very hot. The trail was relatively easy with only a 1,000 foot elevation gain to our four mile destination of Maud Lake.
The Sierra received a fair amount of snow this year….the trail was quite wet, the lakes are full and the streams and creeks are flowing as the snow melts in the higher elevations. I usually don’t start my SIERRA hikes until August and it was a treat to see so many blooming wildflowers. The mosquitoes on the other hand, no so much. In fact we spent quite some time selecting a campsite that was far enough away from the swampy meadows and the lake. We found a great spot on the rocks above the lake with a nice breeze that kept the bugs tolerable. We laughed a lot on the hike and at camp. I tucked myself into Pea Pod with high spirits for a great trip.
July 1 2016 Maud Lake to Lake Aloha 10 miles
It was so warm last night that I slept without the shell on Pea Pod. I enjoyed watching the stars and seeing the milky-way and moon. I loved waking up and watching the light slowly creep across the sky. But the best part of the morning was when Rich delivered a cup of delicious hot coffee to my tent. That never happens when I’m alone!
We climbed up over Rockbound Pass and had to use both our route finding skills and our fun skills glissading down the snow. (wish I got a picture) We did a little on the fly cross country when the trail disappeared….but soon found the trail and followed it for several miles up the creek. Lots of Mosquitos.
We didn’t see anyone until we got the top of mosquito Pass, aptly named, where we continued to see lots of backpackers getting a jump on the busiest weekend of the year. We are again camped on the rock slabs, this time above Lake Aloha. Lake Aloha is huge and is surrounded by snow-covered peaks that are melting and creating waterfalls everywhere. The rocks are all granite, many of them glacier polished creating a slight sheen. The water has an amazing turquoise color like the Caribbean. Yes, of course I went swimming, right next to a melting snow bank. Surprisingly the water wasn’t that cold and I stayed in it for a full 3 minutes. Again it is warm and I am sleeping without the rainfly on Pea Pod. The stars are out and I can see the snow reflecting off the peaks.
After tossing and turn and trying and trying to fall asleep for what seemed like most of the night I awoke to this……it didn’t seem to matter if I slept not. An exquisite morning at Lake Aloha.
July 2, 2016 Lake Aloha to Fantanillis Lake: 9 miles
Our hike today circumnavigated Jack Peak and brought us by many beautiful lakes. We climbed up over 9,400 foot Dicks Pass which offered stunning 360 degree views. The back side of the pass was full of snow and we had another opportunity at glissading and again I didn’t get a picture. The wildflowers today were just stunning…..so many brilliant colors nestled against the red volcanic back drop. The first two days of the hike were in the granite rock and now we have transitioned into the red volcanic rock.
I’ve been having very hard time starting my stove….usually this doesn’t happen until I’m above 10,000 feet but it is now happening at lower elevations. Sadly, as most of you know using a lighter is an enormous challenge for me. And even swearing isn’t working. Thankfully there are 4 other people around who offer opinions, suggestions, recommendations and help! Jetboil doesn’t make the Sol version anymore, which is the lightest one…..but since I have 4 different Jetboils I think I can configure something acceptable to my weight standards. Not being able to start the stove definitely adds excitement and entertainment to meal prep! After we got to camp today I spent some time cleaning my stove and practicing using both a lighter and a flint to start it. It was an exciting afternoon!
We are again camped on the slabs over looking a tumbling waterfall and 3 lakes…..the furthest away being Lake Tahoe. We are camping high and away from the water so we can get a nice breeze which keeps the mosquitoes away.
July 3, 2016 All over the place..up, down, over, around, sideways and finally to Lake Doris. 14 miles.
Today was epic! The end. I was so tired at the end of the day that I couldn’t write a blog entry. We left camp at 7:50 and arrived at our final destination for the day at 6:45pm.
L O N G day! Beautiful scenery.
July 4, 2016 Lake Doris to Trailhead 8 miles.
Up early and on the trail by 8am. Through the snow and over Rockbound Pass….then down, down down down. Again I MADE everyone stop and swell down their feet at a braided creek crossing with long granite slabs and small sandy swimming holes. Halfway through the day yesterday I discovered that I had not one, not two, not three BUT FOUR blisters…2 on each heel! What the heck?! I don’t get blisters and I think the last time I had one was when I first met Nancy and Rich 8 years ago! I put tape over the blisters to reduce the friction against the back of my boot and tried to think of other things besides how much my heel hurt every time I picked up my foot and put it down.
Stay tuned for the next BIG adventure: Tidy and the Pea Pod on the great Sierra Traverse. July 28-August 22, 2016. Oh, and Cruiser too!