Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Season of Change

After this past weekend, it's safe to say that summer backpacking season is over. There is still time for fall backpacking, but before that happens, it's time for a long overdue post. Last time I posted, it was all about the amazing GoFundMe support and my return to backpacking after becoming bionic. Needless to say, a lot has happened since then. Did I meet my goals I had set for myself? Nope. I could make excuses about why I didn't, which I'm tempted to do at times, but that's not helpful in the long run. Instead, I've learned that it's good to be flexible with goals and to just enjoy every opportunity as it presents itself. EVO and Precipice will be there next summer... and I hear that Mt Goddard is someplace that Dave really wants to visit. I might not have met my goals, or even had a real chance to go for them, but I had more backpacking time in the Sierra this summer than I ever thought I would! 

This post is going to highlight some of my summer adventures... the good stuff, not the bad (trust me, you really don't want to know how temperamental my back is). I like to focus on the positive! Probably the biggest highlight of the summer was the transition from The Mermaid chapter of my life to THE Meatball. Yes, THE Meatball. Back to backpacking, below are some of the significant trips of the summer. Several are not included to keep the length of the post down, one of which is introducing a friend to backpacking! Needless to say, she's hooked now! If you want the full photo scoop of my summer adventures, go to flickr.

A Granite Park Holiday

After two fairly successful backpacking trips, we decided to use the July 4th holiday weekend to attempt my first multi-day backpacking adventure. Our first trailhead choice was gone, so I decided to pick the hottest slog of a trail for this trip. It should be pretty clear by now that I never choose the easy way to do things. Pine Creek it was! We made Honeymoon Lake our basecamp for the long weekend and spent the off day taking the use trail to explore Granite Park. It wasn't easy due to the heat and the awkwardly giant rock hopping across the 'river' to Honeymoon, but the views were worth it. It was almost like a moonscape up there. Needless to say, I can't wait to return and explore more - Bear Lakes Basin is calling my name! 

The view on the way to Italy Pass. A moonscape.

Adventures in Dusy Basin

After having to take a few weekends off from backpacking due to Davemobile issues, Labor Day weekend meant getting back to backcountry. It was off to Dusy Basin for us. We got a late start and it was hot out, but at least there was a breeze and I could finally use my new lightweight pack. We had planned to setup basecamp at Lake 11393 in Dusy Basin, but when we got to Bishop Pass, my back decided to stiffen up. It wasn't hike ending, but we decided not to cross country it and stuck to the trail, camping at the popular lake in Dusy. It wasn't too bad as it was a Friday, and the stunning scenery made up for the "crowd". My back felt better in the morning, so we moved camp to Lake 11393 and I'm glad we did - we were the only ones there! We spent the day exploring the peninsulas of the lake, Dusy Basin itself, and just soaking in the views. Alpenglow on the Palisades that night was amazing. The next morning we did a little cross country hiking back to Bishop Pass (boulder fields are not my friend) and then back to the trailhead. I'm fairly certain the last three miles to the trailhead felt longer than the other 17 miles we hiked combined. Aside from the back flareups and the destroyed toenail, it was a pretty awesome trip! 

Perfect Reflection in Dusy Basin

Exploring Dusy Basin

All HAIL Pear Lake!

It had been probably three years since Steve (@yosemitesteve) told us about Moose Lake. We still hadn't been, but this was the weekend we were going to try for it via the Pear Lake/Alta Meadow loop. Well, what we were suppose to do and what actually happened were two separate things. We made it to Pear Lake in pretty good time (Dave commented on my blistering pace), but as we were getting water and eating a late lunch, the building clouds and cold downdrafts just couldn't be ignored. I was feeling pretty darn good, but we decided to just set up camp due to the unknown. This turned out to be a very good decision. As we were finishing dinner, it started raining. As we got in the tent, that rain turned to hail... and then the intensity and size of the hail increased. The hail eventually put two holes in our tent (it was golf ball size hail) and it covered the ground completely. It was eerie, slightly frightening and cool all at the same time. We realized we were very lucky not to be at Moose Lake as it is much more exposed up there. After the storm, we were treated to an amazing sunset and a double rainbow. The next morning we hiked out and got to enjoy the leftover hail and thankfully less dusty trail. 

Post-Hail Storm at Pear Lake

Double Rainbow!

The Next Season...

This past weekend, we decided to try Moose Lake again, this time just via Alta Meadow. We were prepared for foul weather as there was a storm moving in. I secretly wanted a little thunder snow. Aside from it being chilly outside, I was feeling pretty good as we started the hike. We ran into Ranger Liz on the trail (she issued us our permit to Moose the previous weekend and made for one of the best experiences we've ever had with a ranger) and chatted for a bit. As we ascended the ridge to Panther Gap, the temperature dropped quite a bit... so did the visibility. From here, it was about 7 miles to Moose Lake, and all of it would be in the fog/clouds. Knowing the weather was only going to get worse over the day and night, we decided then just to call it. It sucked, but at the same time, we didn't want to hike in a cloud for 7 miles (the plunging temps threw my back into a little shock too). We just decided it was more backpacking practice for our next attempt at Moose Lake (soon!). About a 1/2 mile from the trailhead, we had our first bear sighting of the year. It was gorgeous and pretty much made up for the crap weather. Am I still a little bummed we didn't make it to Moose? Of course, but we also know when to turn around and that Moose Lake will be there for the next time. 

The Great Western Divide is over there!

Now what happens over the next several weeks and months is up in the air. I'm hoping for a lot more fall hiking and backpacking. Maybe I could meet my goals during this time, but who knows. Maybe I'll make it to Moose, or maybe it will have to wait for spring. It's all about adapting to whatever is thrown your way, and that's what I plan on doing...