Elevation gain: 3,000
Elevation loss: 3,000
The good news is that we were both warm and toasty last night for our 12 hour slumber. Granted I had 10 layers on, but I wasn’t taking any chances (4 upper body-including 2 down jackets, wool top and fleece, 2 lower body, 2 head, socks and gloves)! I think because we zipped our sleeping bags together, I was fortunate enough to have my own personal furnace next to me as well…poor Bri probably couldn’t say the same about me. Bri only needed his usual one layer and I even took off 3 layers throughout the night…shocking! We got up once at 4:30am and man were the stars amazing…a little blurry for me but still phenomenal! We finally emerged at 7, packed up and had one hot vanilla latte to get us going and then we hit the trail at 8:30.
It was only 30 degrees as we packed up which was evident after I washed my pee rag (I do this multiple times a day, and probably TMI) and it was frozen stiff as a board just minutes later.
We planned on having breakfast and 2nd cup of coffee at Ram Lake just a mile up the trail, or so we thought. Here comes the bad news: we planned on doing a little off trail to meet up w the real trail so we wouldn’t have to back track…this seems to only b advantageous to us about 50% of the time we have learned. There was so much steep bouldering up and down that it took us 1.25 hrs to go just a mile when we finally hit the trail again (we usually average 2-3 miles per hour on trail depending on the elevation). So now we’re happy cuz we are on the trail again, but it ends up being another 35 mins and .75 miles, as well as about 9 false summits before we actually get to Ram Lake (I despise false summits…I try not to get my hopes up every time, but low and behold I do anyway!). Another piece of bad news which made hiking even harder is that my left pole is all jacked up. It keeps buckling and then we have to stop so Bri can jimmy-rig it so that it’ll work for a little while longer. So I’m trying not to put very much weight on that pole in hopes of it staying together properly and it’s amazing how much I actually rely on those things until I can’t use one. They say ur arms can take 25-30% of the load off ur legs when u use poles, and I definitely believe that stat now. And to think it was only a few short yrs ago that we were carrying twice the weight and using NO POLES…not sure how we managed that! Another piece of good news…Ram Lake is really beautiful and quiet!
Most of the mountains still have snow capped peaks which really make for a stunning backdrop! Now my legs are feeling pretty darn tired and we have another 11 miles to camp w 3 miles of off trail again…interesting. More good news is that I’m married to a selfless, supportive guy who let me use his pole during the next off trail portion…sooo much easier! I’m a lucky girl for sure. The next 3 off trail miles were gorgeous and lovely…gradual up and down terrain by lots of lakes and meadows.
And the most exciting good news is that we saw a mama bear and her cub frolicking in one of the lakes, splashing around and genuinely looking like they were having fun!
We were way across the lake from them so they didn’t hear or see us until Bri whistled. They jumped out of the lake, shook off the water and scampered up the hill w ease. First time we’ve seen black bear out of Seqouia National Park…and just the way I like to see them, from a safe distance! We made it to Virginia Lake at 1:45 for lunch which meant we were definitely behind schedule, so we only spent 30 mins there before we needed to take off again. It was now time to high tail it to Lake of the Lone Indian because we were running low on daylight fast! We needed to go 8 miles, down 1200 ft and up another 1700 ft in elevation. Needless to say we didn’t have much time to look around and really enjoy our surroundings. It was rough going for me for sure, which was a little more bad news. BUT, then good news struck again when we saw a coyote, our 5th deer for the day as well as a red tailed hawk…it was a wildlife bonanza!! Finally made it to the Lake at 6 which was rough since that’s the time for sundown now. So all our chores were done w little light or headlights.
But now we are cozy in the tent once again at 7:30…when this cold sets it, it really makes us hustle our buns to get everything done! This lake is gorgeous so I can’t wait to see it in the morning! More good news: no bugs, literally none! Still lots of water and snow which makes everything so pretty. Easy to hike in temps. No people around! The only bad news over all: no wildflowers, very short days make for less mileage or feeling rushed.