July 25, 2020
Early, early morning. Well, it just goes to show—even though I had the most perfect tent site, I experienced the worst night of no sleep. I just couldn’t get comfy, where I should have slept like the proverbial rock. I attribute it to the 11,000′ elevation. I think my heart kept me awake working harder than usual to process oxygen. But the blush of pink dawn is in the sky over Kaweah Gap, and the chickadees are singing in the foxtails. The sky is without the blemish or beauty mark of a cloud. I’m hungry and want my tea.
We had a great stroll out of 9 Lakes Basin and stopped on Kaweah Gap to enjoy the views and try to take some selfies with the timer on my phone. For some reason, it wouldn’t work (which may have had something to do with my not donning glasses to see what was actually going on on that little screen).
Then down to Precipice Lake, where we sat awestruck/gob-smacked and in wonder at the beauty. We stopped on the way down to make up a verse to “Little Birdie” and make a little video of it, which looks terrible, but sounds reasonable.
Up on the Gap, we saw a Sphinx moth buzz past us. We saw one yesterday, too, while stopping to talk with Donald. He thought it was a hummingbird. They are amazing-looking critters, and the only place I have ever seen one is right up there at Kaweah Gap. They flit and hover like hummers from flower to flower and drink nectar with their long tongues, which look as straight as a hummingbird’s beak. The last time I was up here, one flew all around my ankles, maybe attracted to my brightly-colored Dirty Girl gaiters, and gave me a good chance to study it. At Precipice Lake, we were surprised by a water shrew running under the water at Barbara’s feet. It’s the largest of the shrew family, and seemed quite at home under the surface. On the walk today, we also saw lots of dark, nearly onyx-colored lizards, one of which flashed its indigo sides and belly at me. Lower down, there were lizards that looked like Zuni or Hopi jewelry, speckled with turquoise down their backs.
We found good tent sites, and took a lovely swim in Lake Hamilton. It was fantastic, the warmest water so far, so we could actually enjoy it and stay in longer. We rinsed out our clothes, set up our tents, made a meal, and as the meals were rehydrating, it began to rain. This gave me a chance to don my rain pants and jacket, which I hadn’t used so far on the trip. I LOVE it when everything I bring gets used! As a further example of this, I was able to repair my pack with two lengths of used dental floss yesterday. Today, the other side got wonky, which required two more lengths of floss. Yay! It’s the little things out here which bring delight. We sat in the drizzle and ate one of the best meals we’ve had: Berkeley Bowl black bean soup mix with dehydrated okra, spinach, carrots, rice and parmesan cheese (I dehydrate parmesan at home. Yum!). It was yummy. We followed it up with a Luna bar for dessert.
Just as dinner ended, it began to rain in earnest, so we retreated to our tents. I am enjoying hearing the distant thunder and listening to the steady drizzle on the tent. It’s a very pleasant temperature. My phone shows that we have traveled 8.5 miles today. I suppose that’s possible, but it didn’t feel like it, since it was mostly downhill (for a change).
Now we are having a good, steady downpour—so welcome to these parched lands. We are snug and content.
Today, while walking up to the pit toilet (Hamilton Lake is too popular to NOT have one), we saw a doe nursing her two fauns. They butted their heads, pulled on her teats, and wagged their tails just like little lambs.
By 6:30, the rain had stopped, and the sky was clearing. We sat on the smooth granite dome which makes the lake’s beach, and drank rooibos tea and split a granola bar, while we watched the light change on Eagle Scout Peak and Valhalla, and the ever-changing reflections on the lake water.
The place has filled up with campers. I count a dozen tents, where there used to be maybe four. The beach is full of socially-distanced little bubbles, taking selfies and yakking away. B recently returned from Wisconsin, and brought back a joke: The toothbrush was invented in Adams County, WI. We know this, because if it had been invented anywhere else, it would have been called a “teethbrush.” I am giddy, and will laugh at almost anything.
Now it’s 8:45, and almost “backpackers’ midnight,” and time to seek sleep. Good night.
I am so enjoying your writings of travels in the backcountry. I can imagine myself there even though I have never had such an experience. Thank so much for the joy you share.
Beautiful testament to the mountains. I’m a great big fan of foxtail pine. The photo of you windblown at Kaweah Gap is sooo you.
Your writing brings me right back to all the backpacking trips I’ve taken – the feeling of it, the unbounded joy (plus the sleepless nights and pleasure of creative repairs!). Thank you for sharing it all so beautifully.
Stunning photos, beautiful writing, Laurie! You and Barbara are an inspiration.