September 25, 2014
Horse corral trailhead to Lost lake. 8ish miles
I left Santa Barbara at 4pm yesterday; 5 and a half hours and 300 miles later I arrived at Azalea campground in Sequoia National Park. I awoke this morning to a semi clear Sierra sky and wind. Lots of wind.
Driving at night and awakening in a new place at the start of an adventure always feels like a bonus day. I didn’t spend precious daylight driving and now I have a full day ahead.
I was surprised at how warm it was last night and this morning. But that is all about to change come tomorrow.
I picked up a walk-up permit and checked the weather one last time. Wind. Cooling temperatures at least 10 degrees and slight change of thunderstorms 20% on Saturday. Thats an 80% chance of no thunderstorms. On the other hand cool temps and thunderstorms could mean snow up high. Hmmm.
I drive another hour to the trailhead. Right smack in the middle of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park is a small section of the Sierra National Forest. I mention this for several reasons; one because it is odd and two because as I was driving I discovered a whole area where dispersed camping is allowed and finally currently no fires are allowed in the National Forest but they are allowed in the National Park. Odd.
When I got to the trailhead no one else was there and this caused a few moments of pause, contemplation and second guessing. ” was I at the right trailhead? Yes. What does everyone else know that I don’t? Nothing. Am I making a mistake by taking this trip now because the weather is about to change? We’ll see…..” I reason that I can always hike out on Saturday instead of Sunday and I opt to spend tonight at 9,000 feet and the next two nights at 8,000 or below. Just as I put my pack on a car pulls up and two backpackers get out. I don’t feel so alone in my decision and we talk about the possibility of snow on Saturday above 10,000 feet.
The aspens are a changin’ and blown’ in the wind!
hiking through an old burn area. Notice all the little trees.
It’s a perfect day for hiking and I find the trail pleasant. The temperature is in the mid 60’s and the trail is a gradual ascent through dry autumn meadows. All the side creeks and streams are completely dry. Above the blue sky gives way to fast moving wispy clouds. The wind creaks through the Firs, Jeffrey and Lodgepole pines creating a spooky feeling. Occasionally pine cones thud to the ground. Three times I hear a tree branch or possibly an entire tree crash to the ground. For a minute I wonder what the chances are of a tree falling on me while I hike down the trail. I arrive at Lost Lake at 3.30, tired but happy. The altitude is having its way with me today. Lost Lake sits in a cirque below Silliman Crest. No one is here. My campsite has a fabulous view of the lake and an awesome fire pit. The wispy clouds and ferocious wind have simmered down.
Lost Lake. A rare moment of stillness.
Not wanting to end up with cold feet I do not swell my feet down. It feels odd not to partake in this ritual. I lounge on a rock and watch the sun disappear behind the colossal rock face at the far end of the lake.
I spent a long time watching the light dance in and out of the crack in the rock.
I enjoy one of the three luxuries I brought on this trip. Binoculars! The other two being half of an actual book, I tore out the part I had read and left it in the car, and a full sized deck of cards, for solitaire cribbage, as opposed to my usual 1/4 size. And I’m sad to report that Cruiser, upon finding out I was taking the Gorilla pack flat out refused to come. He is home bonding with Chester.
By 7 pm it is dark! I was able to make a fire and I ate dinner and worked on my trail journal by the warmth of the fire. I rarely have fires when I’m backpacking because I’m usually above 10,000 feet where fires are not allowed. So tonight it is a special treat and extra special because otherwise I woulda been in my tent at 7pm which makes for a very long night. Someone has carved a perfect round flat circle on the log that I am sitting on and it holds by cup. I wonder about the person who carved this….I like that my cup rests on the log without falling in the dirt. It is now 8:45 and I am watching
the final glowing embers.
The stars are bright and besides a few gusts of wind all is still at Lost Lake. But really it’s not lost because I found it!
If I found the lake then is it really Lost Lake?!