At 9:00 PM last night, I definitely smelled smoke in the air. I know it’s a long ways off, wherever it is, but I got anxious and couldn’t sleep. I lay in my bag plotting escape routes, and figuring how quickly we could get going if need be. Not good for sleeping. Plus, it was cold, and i kept rolling off my Neo Air pad. I guess I erred on the side of too much air last night.
6:00 AM and B and I are up and on the trail by 7:30. I love the mornings. We had been dreading the climb over into Ten Lakes Basin, but it was remarkably easy and short! There were exposed rocky switchbacks, but not for very long. The weather was perfect but for the smoke hanging in the lower elevations. This morning, I can see it down there, but not smell it. We saw a small fire not far from Ten Lakes, but the majority of this smoke is coming from some place much farther away—thankfully.
Coming up the switchbacks, we passed many beautiful junipers. They are so picturesque! I want to do a portrait of each one.
We got to North Lake and dropped our packs at a beautiful sport, only to be invaded ten minutes later by an REI outing with 14 people. Apparently, this was their chosen lunch spot. We let them have it, and wandered around the lake, lazing in the sun and shade. It was nice talking for a bit to the guides Jeremy and Millie, based out of Richmond, CA. Our neighbors! Jeremy knows my compass class instructor from REI, Banning Lyons. Banning had told me that he was writing a book, when I took the class maybe six years ago. Apparently, he has finally finished it, and has a publisher! His story was an interesting one, and I look forward to reading it in print.
My shoes are falling apart. Large chunks of the sole have just disintegrated and peeled off. This, and the fact that B is still having some pain with her blister, has made us decide to cut our trip a day short and hike out tomorrow. I used all the remaining Tenacious Tape to fasten the soles back on. I hope it works. I had bought this pair of New Balance Minimus trail runners on EBay a couple of weeks ago, because my feet love those shoes, and apparently New Balance has discontinued them. So an online search came up with this pair, at a reasonable price, looking to be in good shape. But I don’t feel too good about my score right now.
There is great swimming in the lake, but way too many people around here. I mean, you can get privacy, but not nearly as much as I would like. Because of our feet, we decided to stay put, though, and not find a more remote lake.
The REI folks fed us their leftover lunch of beautiful goat cheese, fresh snap peas and apples. That was nice of them. It’s rare to get fresh veggies and fruit on a backpacking trip. The flavors just explode in the mouth!
In the evening, the lake was quiet and the sky clear. I lay watching for the occasional shooting star and making wishes. Well, you never know…there might be something to that. Now that we have made the decision to leave tomorrow, I am feeling anxious to get home, to make sure everything is okay. This was a relaxed, slow low-mileage day.
Today was an easy 9 miles, much of it spent just strolling around the lakes and wandering up side trails. I feel good physically, and there is a bounce in my step that wasn’t there on Day 1. I want to be back up in the high country, as we were on occasion the last couple of days. Tomorrow will be one big up and then down, down, down.