Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Second Day on the Esmeralda Basin Loop
Beginning where I left off: I was fully awake and feeling great at 6:00 am. This is not something that happens to me often, if fact, it's quite an anomaly. (especially if I've only gotten about 3 hours of bad sleep) I can only figure I had an adrenaline rush going--because I didn't just feel great, I felt unbelievably fantastic. I felt like I could conquer the world. I can compare it slightly to how I felt after having my babies. That sounds weird, but the amount of fear and uncertainty was similar (the pain factor was most definitely not similar...though I wouldn't call the un-inflated mat exactly comfortable either) as well as the intense feeling of relief that it was over. I had my steak and eggs breakfast that thankfully no bears found (a hard boiled egg with beef jerky) and hit the road. I went--I'm not kidding--less than a quarter mile and came upon the lake.
With the really quaint little campsite that would have been so comforting...
but had I found it, I wouldn't have had such a great natural high going, so I didn't mind so much. I was glad it wasn't so late in the season that there weren't any wild flowers left. Others had described seeing tons, but I was thrilled to see as many as I did. So many beautiful fields full of them...it was lovely.
Coming up and over the backside of Fortune Creek Pass had some decent views of the surrounding mountains, though this one (Harding Mountain?) still had some of the 'ominous' clouds from the night before surrounding it.
I had read there were some campsites at the top of the ridge, and I kept looking for them, but never found them. There was no way I was going to get caught in the dark again...I was going to find a great campsite and I was going to figure out how to put up that darn tent if it was the last thing I did! So I kept chugging along, keeping my eyes open for a good spot. Coming down there was some steep and slippery places, and I took a bit of a fall. No blood, but I did drop my camera. (lesson #8...don't hike with your camera in your hand. Duh.) Even though it's an old and not terribly expensive camera, I was SO thankful I didn't break it. (I really wanted pictures of my first two nighter! Plus, what if I saw a mountain goat and couldn't take a picture! That would have been dreadful) I came to a fork in the road, with no sign. I looked at my map, and saw there was another trail (Ingalls Way...bad picture of the map, but it's on the right) that split off of the one I was on. It wasn't even noon yet, so I decided I'd take it. Adventure!
I ran into a couple coming up, swallowed my pride and asked, "Do you happen to know what trail this is?" They told me they were going to ask me the same thing. They said they were looking for Longs Pass which is off Ingalls Way. I said, "This is Ingalls Way, isn't it?" They said, "Oh no...we just came from the parking lot for Esmereda Basin". HUH?
I decided to hike back up to the fork in the road to try and figure things out. They hiked with me and asked me a bunch of questions. (I guess I looked like a real hiker...who has already acknowledged she doesn't even know what trial she's on. Humm...these people were stupider than I thought. ;) The woman was particularly impressed that I was out there by myself. "Do you have bear spray?" First of all...I don't even know what bear spray is. (deodorant for bears maybe?) Secondly, assuming it's to ward off a bear attack, what are the chances I'm going to find it in my pack in time while a bear is charging me? No--I already wasted money on rope I'll never figure out how to use to hang my food...I think I'll pass on the bear spray. Anyway, we got back to the fork, only to find out it just lead to a camping area. They decided to go back the way they came, figuring they passed the Ingalls Way turn off; I decided this was the perfect spot to pitch my tent!
So we come to hiking lesson #9...never assume that a trail going off the main trail is the one your looking for, unless it is clearly marked. But I was very happy I had back tracked--because look how cute my little spot is! And even though I was the only one there, it felt safe. (I know, I know...it's only psychological, but psychological safety means you sleep better, so it's important) After getting all set up, I sat down to have lunch and think about what to do next, since it was only 12:30. I'll write about that next time. (you already know how much I can drag these stories out...and if you don't, just read the "Chain Lakes" saga)