Deep thoughts, I know!
The other welcome reminder from this trip is that we can really "get away from it all" quite quickly and easily. While it was nice to have a three-day weekend, we ended up leaving early Saturday morning and we returned Sunday night. Theoretically, we could be camping in a different place every weekend!
Saturday night we were lucky enough to spend at the wonderful Pear Lake in Sequoia National Park. This hike is usually packed and requires a wilderness permit for which one must apply months in advance or arrive early in the morning the day of the hike, but since it was officially "off-season", we were able to pick the hike that we wanted. We had thought about another hike, but, while the distance was the same, the elevation gain was significantly more. We were already starting out a bit late, so I opted for the less-challenging hike. Also, we did not have a bear canister, and the Pear Lake campsites did offer lockers for our food stuffs. I felt like a bit of a rookie with that oversight, but I know that the last time we hiked in Kings Canyon we rented a canister. Live and learn. I was VERY excited about Pear Lake, however, because I had heard that it was a beautiful hike from an old colleague, but I had never had the chance to experience it. Now I did.
We were finally suited up and ready to cruise on up to our destination around 1:30 pm. Well, trudge and huff and puff rather than "cruise on up".
It was a great trail, as most of the National Parks' trails are. For the first half of the hike, we walked among the trees.
Group shot! We are still smiling too.
Around the half-way point, we took a MUCH needed break and ate a snack. The snack was also quite necessary to fend off a terrible mood that had suddenly overtaken me. Also, I felt that I couldn't continue. Those awful Cliff gel-shots totally saved me from a full-on 'bonk'! I realized that we are both terrible at pacing ourselves and eating appropriately. Must remember that for our next trip.
Not quite our destination, but we know that we are close! This was Emerald Lake, and at this point, we had ooh-and-ahh moments with every step that we took as we enjoyed the alpine lake-granite rock combination.
Finally, we arrived! Pear Lake! It was one of the most beautiful places that I had ever been. These photos do NOT do it justice. Here I am, looking tired (just slightly), but happy to be at our destination.
Admiring the views and feeling accomplished! Plus, we picked out a great campsite.
Ah, dinnertime, right as the dusk falls! We were tired, hungry and ready for some warm food, and whiskey (note the brown bag). Other important items - the camp stove, AKA "The Pocket Rocket" by MSR and our water filter. We enjoyed a nice dinner of Trader Joe's Wild Mushroom risotto to which we added onions and peppers that I had cut up and carried up in a plastic bag.
After we inhaled the pot of food, we tucked ourselves into our sleeping bags and hunkered down for the evening even though it was probably 7:00 pm. My one regret - that we did not stargaze for a bit, but our aching bodies demanded rest and warmth, so in the tent we went!
We awoke to a beautiful morning - it reminded me of the constant line of "Dawn's rosy fingers..." in the Iliad! Fortunately, we did not have to get up and gird ourselves for battle. I wish that we could have snapped a photo or two, but our batteries died on us. Ah well. We did enjoy a lazy morning at the lake, as we ate a pot of oatmeal and watched the sun's golden cast slowly extend itself across the granite bowl that surrounded us. Before breaking down our tent and heading back down, we walked around part of the lake and said "hello" to a marmot - he/she was a fatty!
The hike back to the car was also beautiful, but at that point, I believe that we were focused on shedding the pack and our boots. We also had the idea of a hamburger stuck in our heads, which served to further motivate our quick hike back to "civilization".
Once back in the valley of the park, the hustle and bustle there felt a bit surreal. We had been quite alone for only 24 hours, but it is a bit jarring to return to what is a tourist destination rather than a hiker's peaceful haven. Still, we did enjoy the hamburger in one of the park's restaurants before returning to the LA area, which was even stranger. It seemed as though we had been away for a week because we were SO distant from everything in our lives, but it was a mere 36 hours, really.
Despite our tired muscles the next day (our calves were KILLING us!) and my broken-down boots, it is so exciting to be backpacking again, even if it is just a short overnight. This has certainly given me the confidence that I will be able to explore more of the Sierra come next summer, retracing John Muir's footsteps and taking in the beauty that the western US offers up to those who are willing to walk around a bit.