Water, Water Everywhere
Day 2 of our trip began early. It was early for us at least. Many thru-hikers start before the sun comes up, but there was no need for that kind of nonsense. A few ibuprofen at bedtime helped to lessen the pain that was expected this morning. In no rush to break camp, we explored the area around the lake on our own. I’m not sure if the lake we were at had a name, but according to the maps it was one of the Ten Lakes. Because of the altitude, the mosquitos weren’t as bad up here and I was thankful. I felt like a kid again, scrambling over rocks and exploring the stream for critters. The lake was like a huge mirror, reflecting the granite walls and trees. We had it all to ourselves. Aaron started fishing and within an hour had a nice trout that we would eat for breakfast. At this altitude and higher, fish would be hard to come by. Next to water and shelter, food is a priority. Since we would only be hiking 8-10 miles per day, we had plenty of food for the estimated 3,000 calories that we would be burning each day.
We packed up and started following the stream that fed this lake because we figured it would lead to another lake. It was slow going as we scrambled over rocks and around fallen trees. It was at this point that I realized how top heavy my pack was. Since it was an ultralight pack, it was fairly narrow but expandable a the top. It was inevitable you know…
The stream crossing looked easy. Easy until I leaned past the tipping point. In slow motion I fell backward into the water catching myself before going all the way in. I laughed at myself and hoped that there weren’t too many more streams to cross. A bit more bouldering and bushwhacking brought us to the next lake. It was a warm sunny day, perfect for drying out my wet socks on the rocks. I felt like a lizard sunning itself as I dipped my feet into the cold water. It wasn’t icy cold, but my feet started to go numb after a few minutes. I was content to just dip them like tea bags into the crystal clear lake. Other than wanting my beautiful wife to witness this awesomeness with me, I was far removed from the cares of the rat race.
As Joe made his way around and up the walls of the cliffs surrounding the lake for a better view, Aaron tried his hand at fishing again. He seemed to be full of patience as he would cast and reel, cast and reel. No more fishies today Aaron. We had what would be our standard lunch – tuna, pita bread and an apple. In the afternoon we started our way around this lake to check out the mini-glacier on the other side of the lake. It was over 100 ft. tall, 40 ft thick and begging to be climbed. Parts of the Sierras got over 50 ft. of snow the previous winter. Not having an ice axe, I slowly made my way up most of the way and slid down using my boots as skis. Most guys never really grow up. God just made us this way, goofy and sometimes reckless. However, as I’ve gotten older I do take less risks. Today, I didn’t go all the way to the top of the snow pack.
We continued on using the map to find the next lake where we would make camp. It took us through meadows crisscrossed with streams and creeks. We saw a chicken like bird with its young hatchlings. Following the water, we reasoned that it would lead to the next lake. It is interesting how they were all connected somehow. We made our way around a pond which was fed by another stream. So much water up here. Climbing up, we saw the next body of water and the largest lake yet. It was surrounded by sheer cliffs and steep banks. We found a relatively flat area with a nice view of the lake. The trees thinned out a bit up here at 9,600 ft. This was the highest altitude permissible for campfires in Yosemite. Fires are prohibited above 9,600 ft because of the impact on the relatively small amount of trees. We all went exploring again around the lake. Returning to the campsite, I unrolled my sleeping pad laid on my back, looked up into the bluest skies ever and took a catnap. What a surreal place this was. Surreal? Nah, this enchanting place is an awesome example of the Lord’s majesty.
Next: Day 3, off the trail – into the wilderness