Tuesday: Day 1
Due to the “first come, first serve” permit service and only three designated backpacking camp sites, we knew that we had to plan for an early start to our day. The trail head was located 2 hours south with the office opening at 9AM. For me it was getting up at 5AM since I live on the outskirts and about 30 minutes away from Reno. It allowed plenty of time for everything without having to rush and I prefer it this way these days. By 7:30AM we were leaving town and traffic was unusually busy for a Tuesday. It seems like the population of the city keeps rising and so is it’s traffic congestion. The drive was fairly smooth and luckily we missed a coyote that ran across the road in front of us. What we did hit though, was some construction work and the dreaded flagger, but just as predicted, to the minute, we pulled up in front of the office at 9AM on the nose. The door to the gift shop / permit office was wide open already and the trail parking lot was already bustling with action. “Oh no” I thought, I hope we are not too late. I scanned the area but only saw day hikers and no other backpackers, which was good sign. Luckily we were the first to ask for a permit and therefore we were able to pick our favorite site out of the three. We got everything squared away and got the permit for two nights even though we would only stay one. This way would allow us to leave the tent up all day and have shelter in case it would rain. There was a chance of thunderstorms for both days, plus we could take our time packing up since we planned on staying until late afternoon. We always do and I wouldn’t imagine this time to be any different.
By the time the sleeping bag and my sleeping pad was attached, the pack didn’t feel unreasonably heavy, but it was enough. Especially with the arthritis. I centered and situated most weight onto my hips to put less stress onto my shoulders and legs. Off we went with our backpacks, tripod case, camera case and another little lunch bag (that everybody would comment and loved due the picture imprinted of a bulldog wearing glasses…who doesn’t love dogs, right?) with today’s snacks in tow. “Are we there yet” did cross my mind before I even got started. I love hiking but in most occasions I have to work harder with my joints to get to where I want to and strenuous is always a bit of a butt kicker. And this particular trail is always a bit of the same for me, especially doing it the first time of the year. The trailhead is at 8500 feet which is 4000 feet higher compared to where I live. It climbs 600 feet in a little bit over 2 miles. Nothing too crazy, but even walking on the moderate stretches makes me sweat when you are not used to the elevation. I have to find my pace and regulate my breathing as not to gasp for air trying to get more air into my lungs. Ok I’m slightly exaggerating, but you will definitely feel the struggle and it takes time to acclimate to higher elevations. And then carry a pack of 35-40 lbs. (at least) on top of it, is no joke my friend.
I found my pace, (I always do) but I’m not gonna lie and say I could have easily walked on forever. I was ready to get there, to pitch the tent and put the labor aside to enjoy the day. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the journey, I was just tired from working and I was ready to rest and be lazy. The trail passed little run off water crossings here and there and snaked its way through wooded areas and along mountain ridges. The hillside was in bloom, just as suspected and dotted with a variety of wildflowers offering a rich palette. A series of meadows was ahead of us and the first one was especially rich and thick with wildflowers. A little creek ran through it, supplying plenty of moisture to the lush growth. The trail would narrow through the thick and tall plants as if you had to cross through a jungle. One more turn and it would lie directly in front of us as our excitement was building. We came around the bend and what I noticed first was all the people amidst the “jungle” and then I noticed how thick and grown in it was. I had never seen it so rich and so tall in all the years coming here. It was quite a sight to behold and I couldn’t blame anyone for stopping and pausing to take it all in. After our share of it and taking a few pictures to memorize the moment, we pushed on to the next meadow, one of my favorites. The trail finally levels out and you are minutes from the ridge with Winnemucca Lake lying at your feet in a granite bowl. The meadow is grassy and full of boulders and wildflowers. It’s simply stunning and I’m not sure if pictures can bring it justice. I hope I did bring you an idea of what this area looks like until you might see it with your own eyes. We took a few more pictures before summiting the final steps that gave away the view of Winnemucca Lake and for the first time since the start of the trail, I was able to take the deepest of breaths, followed by the deepest of sighs and the deepest appreciation of being amongst this beauty and spend the night under the moonlight.
I’m all excited as I’m getting ready for a one night backpacking trip to Winnemucca lake. I’m ready and it’s been far too long it seems. Summer is nearing it’s end and trips this year have been scarce. Not that it is all that surprising, considering that our last snow storm was in June. We have stayed close to home for the most part, wrapped up in too many obligations with too little time for longer, extended play. But the plays ahead will be some big ones and Germany is no quick side-trip. It will be grant in a nature of it’s own. Winnemucca lake is an amazing place, one of my favorite (I feel I’m beginning to say this about every place now, but this area is beautiful to say the least and I’m blessed to have it in my backyard) and it will a first for this year. It has it all, from the beautiful alpine lake, nestled in granite, to the Boulder strewn meadows, jagged mountain cliffs, signs of a volcanic history, Marmots, and on top of it, it is one of the most spectacular wildflower hikes around. I envision a variety of blooms light up the hillside, thick and colorful, while the crest above might still carry a little snow. The water is so clear that you can skim the surface and drink it without any problem. We shall not go thirsty and less weight to carry in.
The adventure begins Tuesday morning and after a super long day today, I’m exhausted but packed. Surprisingly the pack is reasonably light compared to the usual and other prior short trips. We will see what the end result is Tuesday morning and I already know I have to make up some weight because I’m bringing the tripod and the big camera. Awe yes, the sleeping bag and pad is also not attached yet which will make a difference.
As I mentioned earlier this week I had homework in the photography field and I have unfinished business when it comes to it. I hope to shoot something amazing, a style that is new to me and not fluent yet, one I never tried before and much will be up to trial, error and hopefully a few lucky shots that will blow my mind. I will push myself hard to hopefully bring back some of these images to let you experience this beauty with your own eyes through my lens.
Although a short escape, it will be a profound one that I have been looking forward to. It will be my first full moon backpacking trip and timing has never worked in my favor to enjoy such grandeur. The Sturgeon moon will rise tomorrow night and this moon-child couldn’t be any happier about that. It is time to walk the moon-lit pasture, watch the moon climb over the jagged granite crest while it is casting it’s golden glow in the still waters of the lake. Hopefully it’s not windy and if it is I might have to shoot from the inside of the tent. Either way it will be magical….
This picture was taken last year and as far as this year is concerned, it’s almost hard to believe that Winnemucca lake is still covered in ice. The hike up to lake is a popular wildflower hike we do every year and albeit you can probably get up there by now, it will be a hike to be delayed this year. I can see a backpacking adventure to spending the night up there once the wildflowers peak and a full moon lights up the granite peaks. I have unfinished business and this is the perfect place to view th Milky Way as you gaze into the universe and it’s highway lined of bright stars.
Coming around the bend to Convict Lake, our eyes opened wide and something like “Oh my gosh” followed. It was one of the few spots you can drive up to and be rewarded with the stunning beauty that was begging you to believe you had to put hours of strenuous hiking into it prior to getting there. The lake was nestled in a bowl at the base of the mountains and during the summer month the mountains were marbled with colors of brown, gold and white. I call them my gelato mountains as they remind me of the swirl like motion of gelato ice cream. Layers of various colored rock, pushed through years and years of time, leaving behind the traces of their travels through history. Bands of color stretching, dipping down and rising back up in stunning patterns, a truly magical place. I don’t think we had ever seen this beauty in the winter and it looked so totally different, covered in a magical cloth of white innocence, it had the feel as if it was brand new, like we saw it for the first time.
Although I missed the gelato effect that was now covered up, we quickly agreed that the snow gave the area an even more majestic feel. A breathtaking wonderland, clean and pristine, stretched out under nothing but sunshine and blue skies. We stood in silence and after taking it all in, we thought it to be the perfect spot to shoot a few pictures with the war bonnet. It had been a silent traveler, mostly stored in the cabin or coming along from spot to spot to stay behind in the Jeep with no action. Today, it’s status would be changed and it couldn’t get any more epic than this, at least not from a scenic point of view. I quickly got ready and could already envision the finished product in my mind. Nobody bothered us as we snapped away. We probably didn’t go unnoticed, but our privacy was respected and we were granted our own space and the proper distance to the increasing amount of people that was beginning to show up.
The lake was frozen for the most part, but not solid in all spots. It made me slightly nervous to see people walking on the ice and tempting faith, but there wasn’t much I could do. Luckily nothing bad occurred that day, and everybody’s guardian angel must have been on duty right there. We decided to hike the right side of the lake and find a spot at the furthest end under the mountain ridge. The snow was pretty packed and albeit our snowshoes strapped to our packs, our snow boots were sufficient without sinking into the deep snow. The hike was serene and relaxing and we stopped several times for a short moment to watch a tiny little dot on the mountain across the lake, climb it’s way in switchback motion up to the ridge. Switchbacks are a zigzag pattern to make steep terrain more manageable and level the climb. With my zoom lens I shot a picture and later zoomed in even further to identify the tiny little dot as a person with skies strapped to his back. That almost made me even more nervous than the people on the ice. The mountain was very steep with a lot of snow and the potential of avalanche danger. There would be no way for survival if a slide was triggered and for being such an optimist, I surely was worrisome that day. Usually always seeing the positive, somehow it was the dangers that stood out on that day. Somehow there was a heightened awareness, a caution to something I just couldn’t explain.
Reaching the end of the lake, we found a big enough rock and cleared the snow from it. Spreading our towels, we declared it our final destination for the day. Leftover pizza was our picnic meal for today and it was delicious, even cold. We lost track of the tiny black dot as it disappeared behind another ridge, but our eyes were peeled into the direction we last saw him or her. With any luck we would witness a free ride down the steep mountain slope, and so we waited. After eating I explored and shot a few more pictures. It was incredible to see all the snow. Trail markers and wilderness signs were buried all the way to the top, barely sticking out of the snow. It was definitely the most snow/moisture producing winter we had in years and I had to smile at the prediction that it would be an average winter.
All of a sudden we noticed our little dot moving down the mountain side. He/she was skiing from side to side to slow the steep terrain in this epic free ride downhill while heading towards the lake. We lost sight a few times as the person must have stopped behind a ridge to slow the descend and make the ride last as long as possible. It was great to watch and witness and eventually the rider finished at the bottom of the base in perfectly safe circumstances without triggering the feared avalanche I had thought of earlier. Wow, what a ride and what a stellar adventure to remember. I had watched people do this before but never in steep terrain like this and the climb had to be bear to get up there.
The hike back was quiet for the most part. The day, the adventure and the entire trip was nearing it’s end and we knew it. The lake was on my right side now with another mountain on my left. A noise I couldn’t identify, coming from the left stopped me in my tracks. My eyes open wide and pierced, I was trying to spot what could have caused it. The terrain was pretty open, with a few bushes and wood logs, but not forested at all. It should have been easy to spot where the noise come from and yet there wasn’t a darn thing I could see. Other than standing there with an eerie feeling and no idea what got me spooked, “Mountain Lion” was the first thing that came to mind and I don’t know why. Probably because that is a fear as I see them as stalkers of their prey and fierce killers. I’m not afraid of bears but mountain lions have my shivering respect. Still nothing and I couldn’t see a thing. We moved on and I was last in line. Needless to say, I turned around every other moment just to check behind me and have time in case something was stalking me or ran up on me. The eerie feeling never left as I clenched my staff a little tighter and until we made it back to the beginning of the trail where the jeep was parked. I can’t explain what it was we heard, or what had made that noise, but it was as if something walked through the brush, crackling wood, something of that nature. For sure it wasn’t the snow shifting and the sound was very different from that. But it was close to where I was, very close indeed.
The drive home was quiet and reality definitely hit. We were leaving this magical place and we didn’t want it it end. It had come and gone in the blink of an eye and already I found myself dreaming of when the next adventure could be arranged. Permanently if possible and preferably. But for now we were filled with new memories of the recent adventure and somewhere buried and hidden were four Tri-Tip bagels that found their way back home with us.
It had started last night with that fantastic Tri-Tip dinner and that feeling that carried right into the next morning. Everything started to feel final, the last time, one last day, the final hours. I would lie if I said that it wasn’t in the least bit saddening. The last night, the last dinner, followed by that last amazing breakfast and the final, last day before reality would catch up once more. I always felt that way when an adventure was nearing it’s end, and I would always here the phrase “It’s not over yet”. Very true, but somehow the feeling got worse and more intense. I loved this so much, being out here, that with every trip the feeling of not wanting it to end got stronger and stronger. With every trip, I found more and more of myself not wanting to come back. I started dreaming about these trips who had been my escape from the real life and the obligations of such to become my real life. There would be no more need of escaping anything. I seemed that if I had to escape reality, then there was something terribly wrong with it. I was in need of changing my reality so that there was no need to escape from it. My life was in need of change….I had to change my stars. Never had it been so obvious as of now. I used up as much of the groceries as possible that last morning. We didn’t bring anything to keep the refrigerated stuff cool, so it was a matter of use it or lose it. Check out time was at 10AM and I had packed most of my clothing and things the night before. Time was ticking by way too fast, mainly probably we didn’t want to go. Turning the keys into the rental office, we found out that the cabin would be empty tonight. I was tempted, tempted in a big way to call work and somehow make it happen to stay for another night. But I didn’t and instead we were allowed to take our time and stay until 11AM to enjoy the sunny porch for one last time. And we did, up until the last second. Slowly, reminiscent, we drove away, eyes glued on the cabin until we couldn’t see it anymore.
We would spend our final day up at Convict Lake, right around the corner from were our cabin had been located. Strangely we hadn’t stopped at the lake earlier as our adventures always took us away in the opposite direction, but we knew what was waiting for us. We had been here many times before. Little did we know at the time that we would be in for a surprise.
As I am sitting here writing this, I’m slightly sidetracked as I remember a small little detail that I left out from our adventurous Day 3. It is too funny not to mention and I hope you don’t mind the short detour. You remember me writing about driving through the movie set of “Transformers” a few years back, right? Well almost the same thing happened on Day 3 again, this time near the cabin on Convict Lake instead of being on Movie Road in the Alabama Hills. We were getting ready to turn onto the main road as I saw a guy rushing towards us, waiving his arms frantically for us to stop, while talking into his walkie talkie at the same time. Apparently he was checking on something that was very important because he seemed adamant to reach us in a timely manner. Coming to a stop next to us he asked where we were heading. After a few words exchanged, he finally informed us that they were in the progress of filming a Firestone tire commercial right here and now. He checked a few things and finally gave us the clearance to proceed, to go on with our business so they could go on with theirs. Some ways down the road we saw a Jeep parked, most likely the chosen vehicle for the commercial. We couldn’t help but laugh out loud, remembering the Transformer / Movie road incident and realizing that by a hair we almost produced the creation of part 2, another drive through during another filming. At least this time we would have known what was being filmed and so far there has been no sight the commercial yet. Yeah I checked already and it must be in production. Already I can’t wait for the day to see it, the day that will take me back to that very moment and the big smile that will grace my face when it happens.
To be continued….
On the way up, we past several climbers on their conquered boulders. Sitting on top of their ruling rocks, the view had to be awesome. I felt like I had to stop every other minute to catch my breath, take a few pictures and tell myself “you’re almost there”. Who was I kidding? I merely saw the top of the first ridge and what I didn’t see was the ridge beyond the ridge I was climbing. In the end we, or I should say I made it and was once again rewarded with the most stunning views. No pain, no gain, it’s that simple and if you want to see a place like this, you just have to put in the work, there is no way around it. Few places like this exist that you can drive up to to be astonished like this. Even the feel becomes different, almost too easy and you have to be physically broken down to an extend to take in the lesson and the appreciation that is being offered.
Once we got to the top of the ridge we found more snow, deep in some places and minimal in others. We avoided the snow as much as we could, simply for the reason of not getting our footwear soaked which consisted in part of my trusty Columbia running shoes. A staple I had come to trust over the year, lightweight and with great traction to keep the slipping and sliding to a bare minimum. Standing on top of the cliff, the ridge of the Buttermilk boulders I just had climbed, the Sierra was laid out straight across from me. A solid snowfield below was hinting of the traces from a glacier that once upon a time was spreading out between us and the foot of the mountains. The view was something to behold on to and it was another one of those moments that I will never forget. Once again I welcomed the feeling of deep gratitude while standing there in silence, letting the accomplishment/reward sweep over me, while closing my eyes. I did it, I made it, gosh this is amazing were all thoughts that crossed my mind as peace rushed through my veins. A “still” that perhaps not everybody can relate to but those who do and have felt it first hand for themselves, would know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s something hard to put into words, an emotion, a sense of heightened awareness that can’t be described but must be felt. It’s a place we get our strength from, a place of recovery and rebirth. Something that is essential for me, something that helps me keep my sanity in circumstances that feel everything else but sane at times.
We stayed for quite a while (as we always did on all of our trips and outings, with it always turning into an all day adventure) and shared a picnic consisting of avocados crushed with canned chicken breast to make the filling for our tortilla wraps. A delicious and healthier treat I discovered awhile back and that quickly had become a favorite.
We found a natural rock tub filled with water that offered an amazing view of the granite giants. I visualized myself sitting in it, staying until my skin would turn all prune looking, but for now this experience would have to be postponed. It was definitely too cold with the snow and the water had to be freezing, but in the summer heat, just in time before the water would get stale or might evaporate all together, this would be an awesome spot to cool off. I found a cropped out Boulder that seemed to cup my body in all the right places and it gave me the feel of lying in a recliner. A natural rock recliner from the Flintstone ages perhaps as I relaxed back into it and dreamed of dinosaurs roaming this place a long time ago. Turning my head, my imagination projected a Native American woman on a nearby Boulder milling grains in one of the round mill pits naturally carved into the rock. I wonder who else had walked this ground hundreds of years ago and in who’s footsteps I was following. I sensed something spiritual, a feeling of comfort from an era long past, a time simplified and less complex. I immediately knew what it was and recognized the energy that I had first felt while vacationing in Mount Shasta, Oregon. The subject deserves a post all on it’s on as it was a life changing event for me. But here and now, once more, I could feel the energy flooding through me and restoring peace. I didn’t resist one bit or questioned it, but allowed it to carry me away to simpler times of less worry. I can’t explain how it happens, other then I become completely still and at peace with everything around me and the only thing I can say is that nature does heal indeed.
We left a little earlier to head back to the cabin that day. It was Valentine’s Day and a special meal was on our mind, a meal we had been fevering towards since the day that we had gotten here. Maybe I should say that it was me who was fevering towards that special meal. I was the one exited about it from the moment I bought it and it was me who brought it up on several occasions since. We ate amazingly well the prior evenings and could have easily ate the leftovers from the lasagne and pizza, but tonight was something to be remembered. The cabin had a grill on the front porch and tonight’s menu was a nice piece of trip-tip steak. Seeing it out of the packaging, dominating the entire plate it looked like a giant slab of meat, as if we just returned from a hunting trip, foraging for protein. I wish I had taken a picture of it in hindsight. The side dishes included a big baked potato, a worthy fit to compliment the steak. I decided to make a gravy to top it all of but didn’t have much to choose from as our groceries and ingredients were limited. In the end the gravy was a mixture of sautéed onions and mushrooms with a cream cheese sauce, diluted with milk that had to stand in for the sour cream I would have used if I had it, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper. I think we overate that night and fell to bed with full bellies and beyond satisfied of being fed. We had leftovers to make a total of four steak bagels for the next day but in all actuality it would be the pizza leftovers we would bring on tomorrows outing. Life was good, simple and yet it left us feeling richer in many different ways. Ask anybody out on the trail and you will find a nod and a smile of understanding, a feeling and a common connection we share throughout the magic of the trail.
Facebook threw back a memory about my first backpacking trip to North Dome. Located in Yosemite national park, it is right across from Half Dome, (pictured in the background) one of my favorite landmarks in the park. I can’t help myself longing to lean up against that tree right now. To spend a night under the stars, dirty and all with the dust knee high clinging to my skin. Feeling a sense of accomplishment after having overcome the urge to quit, fighting and having made it. To be rewarded with a view like this that’s hard to beat. To feel nature while indulging in the beauty of the golden glow casting magical warmth on the setting sun. To wake up free and welcome another day to the sounds of the chirping birds and the opportunity to make it a great one.
Everything is covered in a thick blanket of snow right now and after the mid sixties this week, there is a chance for snow next Tuesday. It will be awhile to visit this spot and the memories live on within my heart until new ones can be made and beyond.
So no matter where you find yourself today on this Monday, take some time and find your view. It’s always about your perspective and life is a series of moments, supplying us with ever changing views. You might not lean up against a tree or even be in nature, but the view and what you choose to see is always yours and yours alone. So pause for a second, reflect, be grateful, count your blessings and tell me what you see. Know that you have the power to change your view at any given time.
Have you ever heard of spirit and totem animals? Research indicates that a spirit animal may refer to a shamanic belief which guides, to help and protect individuals of which spirit is incarnated as human beings. The subject leaves behind much skepticism and fact driven humans may claim that there is no proof something like this even exists. On the other side you can easily drift off into the world of make belief and live by the motto that everything you can imagine, is real. I say it’s up to us which route we choose and it sounds a little like anything in life and the choice is ultimately always ours.
Being a dreamer, my only choice was to believe that it was the year of 2010 that I got introduced to my first spirit animal. I don’t mean my personal spirit animal and further research revealed that we all have a spirit animal based on our beliefs. What I’m talking about is the sighting of a spirit animal, not once or twice, not even three or four times but a total of 23 times during that year that I was given the incredible honor to see this animal in the wild. The funny thing was that I never even realized it at the time and the revelation of the spirit animal and it being a potential sign came a few years later as more events started to unfold. But it was definitely strange how it all came to be and it only happened once in my lifetime. That year in 2010 ranks pretty high as one of my favorite years.
You are probably sitting on edge wondering what I’m talking about and what I saw. Just imagine, 23 times I got to see my favorite animal in the wild. The Bear….strong, wild and free. Besides their cuddly teddy bear appearance, a pretty powerful one I might add, I admired their attributes, to be in nature, to live in peace and solitude. While most people would take off and run the other way, imagining horrible nightmares of being mauled, I loved them. I was seeking them out, followed them and the hope to be blessed with new encounters is always in the back of my mind when I’m out there.
2010 was also a great year of travel and besides visiting Yosemite National Park, which is about a three hour drive from my house, I got to go see beautiful Canada. Flying go Seattle and continuing the journey per rental car allowed much freedom to explore this beautiful majestic country side. Driving the Icefield Parkway was my absolute favorite and the scenery was astonishing. Every turn a new mountain higher than the previous one, turquoise waters and streams, lush dark green forests and then there it was….the first bear and the world stood still. “Slow down, stop please, I have to get a picture and watch”. For hours I wanted to stay and I didn’t want to leave as long as the was any bear present. Throughout the day, along the journey of passing glaciers and visitor centers, there were also other bears, fully aware of humans, just strolling along the highway, grazing on vegetation growing along the road. I remember one particular spot where other cars where pulled over and people had gotten out to see a bear further up the road. He or she was just walking down the street, grazing, uninterested in having a delicious meal interrupted by nosy bystanders. As the bear neared, a slight hysteria broke out as people scurried along to get inside their cars to lock the doors. Silly in a way as I’m sure the bear could have easily ripped the door off or bent it like a sardine can with minimal effort. But I guess in the end I can’t blame them and it remains a wild, strong and free animal. For myself, I felt no threat, no fear, nor did I feel for the slightest moment that I was in danger. It seemed like the most natural thing to me and I just stood there with the bear on the other side of the car. There had been a similar incident in Yosemite earlier in the year as a cub crawled up a ravine and walked right by me to cross the road. I felt like reaching out and touching it, but of course I didn’t. I’m sure Mama was close by, but neither she or the cub considered me as danger.
Seeing this many bears in the wild, I found it hard to dismiss to coincidence and I once read that coincidences are signs from the universe. So with all of these signs and so many bears in just one year, what was it exactly that the universe was trying to tell me. If one thing was for sure, it was that I felt incredibly lucky to have seen these bears and here is what I found about the bear spirit animal meaning.
The primary meaning of the bear spirit animal is strength and confidence
Standing up against adversity by taking action and leadership
The spirit of the bear also indicated a time for healing and using such abilities for yourself and others
The bear medicine emphasizes the importance for solitude, rest and quiet time
And the spirit of the bear provides strong grounding forces
Have you heard of such spirit animals? Are you a dreamer like me or do you find it hard to believe in the power of these totem animals? I can’t wait to see what you think xoxoxo ❤️
The last and final day of my backpacking adventure took me to Duck’s pass near Mammoth Lakes Ca. I will have to save climbing the pass for another time since I couldn’t tear myself away form the beautiful alpine lakes glistening at its footsteps. After completing a series of switchbacks (my favorites lol), we arrived at the first lake and initially it was as far as we were going to go. A few people on horseback came by and pushed further up the trail after admiring the lake for a few minutes. The lake was pretty, but not a 100% “it”. Beautiful enough to take a break and have a short picnic, but I didn’t come all that far for just a “pretty, but just ok” moment. I was intrigued and we decided to keep going and make it up to the next lake which also called for more switchbacks. It was short though, maybe just another mile to go, but coming over the crest and seeing what was lying ahead, was exactly what I was looking for. That moment that the first lake was slightly of and that instant that takes your breath away and all you can mumble out is something like “Oh my gosh”. There it was while I was standing at the top of the ridge, taking in the magnificent landscape below the bottom of Duck Pass. Already my eyes were trying to secure that perfect spot that was begging to stay for awhile and I knew right away that there was no shortage to be found here. It was just a matter of deciding on which one.
We settled for the water’s edge of this gorgeous alpine lake with Duck Pass straight ahead of us. The pass looked as if it was close by because of the massiveness of the peak, but the faint line of the trail climbing upwards indicated of how far it truly was away. Eventually we spotted a few tiny little dots moved up the pass and it was the people on horseback that had passed us earlier. Settling in on our spot, we had found the “that’s it” factor and spend the remainder of the day there. It was windy and overcast but warm, which made it easier to tolerate the wind that flared up from time to time. I even fell asleep, peaceful at the moment, but would wake up to the worst sunburn ever. It was on the way home later that day that I noticed my face feeling very tight, my nose especially. I was wind burned and my nose would peel for the next week, shedding layer after layer. It felt like dried up shriveled up parchment paper and I was worried about having permanent damage and redness. Luckily all is ok now and for sure I had underestimated the cloudy conditions of that day. A sunburn was the furthest from my mind but I didn’t consider the elevation and being closer to the sun and it’s mighty power.
All in all, another fabulous trip with special memories tucked away inside my heart of the moments that truly matter in life and keep me pulling through until I can go again and do it all over. Minus the sunburn I might add 😉