The winds, which we had anticipated, finally decided to show up last night. It felt like someone was holding onto the tent poles and shaking the tent as violently as they could. My guess is we were getting gusts up to 30-35 mph. In my head I was dreading the fact that I would most likely have to crawl out of the warm quilt and into the freezing temps to try and replace stakes holding down the rainfly. Getting out once to pee was bad enough but figuring if the wind kept up it was going to be multiple times during the night….UGH!! To my surprise at 2:00 in the morning the wind had died and the stakes held their grip in the sandy dirt by Lake Italy.
We woke at 6:20 in the morning and could immediately tell this was going to be our coldest morning. Reluctantly we emerged from the warmth of the quilt in our tent only to be greeted by a crisp 17 degree morning. Morning coffee couldn’t come fast enough to try and replace some of the heat that was being sucked from our bodies. We opted for two cups of coffee as we watched the sun slowly creep down the mountains on the other side of the lake. We wanted to be out of camp by 9:00 and quickly realized that the sun would not make it to our camp to help warm us before needing to pack up and leave.
We were off and hiking by 9:10, heading back up toward Italy Pass and on to Pine Creek Lake (our plan B). The morning required the use of gloves, beanies and jackets to fight off the cold even though we were generating more heat by hiking. This area is definitely not highly traveled, evidenced by the lack of clear trail. Most of the morning was spent 50% on trail and the other 50% off trail or searching for the actual trail. It was apparent that most people had the same problems we were having with staying on trail as we would find multiple cairns in the same area identifying different trails about 50 feet apart. This made it hard to determine what was the actual trail and which led to a dead end.
Once again we had clear skies and beautiful weather to hike in. I love being out here and seeing the clear lakes with striking granite highlighted by snow. Provides us with breath taking backdrops.
We reached Pine Creek Lake at 2:30. The wind was picking up and it was feeling almost as cold as it did when we climbed out of our warm cocoon this morning. We found a great campsite right off the lake but it definitely wasn’t protected by the wind. This is when we started to seriously talk about whether staying or potentially hiking out was our best option. Amy definitely wasn’t feeling her best and I was worried that another night fighting freezing temps would push her, and her cold, over the edge. After figuring that we only had about 3 hours of daylight before we would be retreating to the tent for warmth, followed by another 12 hours in the tent, the most logical choice was to continue hiking the last 4.5 miles to the car and head home early. We didn’t feel like we were cheating ourselves of the time out here as we both enjoyed it tremendously!
It took us about 2 hours to finish our hike arriving back at the truck at 5:00. Now it was time to head back into Bishop for some food. We got to the Pizza Factory at about 5:45 to fill our bellies with pizza. We definitely have grown to really enjoy these fall backpacking trips with the fall colors, lack of crowds and cool temps. We especially loved being back in the Sierras!!