Thursday, May 7, 2015

Goat Lake with Mouse Turds

Goat Lake...what a name, right? I've been avoiding it because I thought it sounded a bit ugly. I'm not sure why; I guess I think goats are unattractive? Nevertheless, I started looking into it because the options for a non-snow encounter in April are very limited. The name is deceiving though, because whether you find goats to be attractive or not, you will not find any here. But what you will find is a good warm up to the season, not too difficult, get in and out type of 1 night backpack; and that's what I call attractive!
A goatless beauty of a lake!
I haven't had any lessons learned in awhile, but this trip provided #42 before I even got to the trail head. Jabbering away with my friend Debbie, I was far too engrossed in gab to have a single thought about my gas tank when we drove through the somewhat remote town of Granite Falls. (last station on the Mountain Loop Hwy) Twenty minutes later I happened to look down (trust me, we were still yakking away) to see my fuel warning light on. Crap. We considered pushing on and just hoping for the best. It's only a warning, after all...I had yet to test exactly how much leeway my car would give.
I'm happy to say we were smart enough to avoid having to learn the "don't test how far you can go when running low on gas while driving in the middle of nowhere" lesson, because we both decided heading back to Granite Falls was our only sane option. The lesson I did learn was: "fill up the car before leaving and getting distracted with chit chat". Needless to say, we got to the TH a bit later than planned. I had read that it only took 2 hours to reach the lake; so even though we didn't hit the trail until 4:30, it didn't concern us too much. I had also read there are two options for your hiking pleasure: upper or lower.  The majority said the lower creek-side stroll was superior, so that's the way we went. It was lovely for sure, but also a muddy mess. We were glad to be heading up, because there were places you could tell people had slipped and skidded their way down. I didn't exactly see butt imprints, but it looked like a few people got more than their shoes dirty.
There were also more than your average blowdowns across the trail. Nothing too hard to go under or over, but it inadvertently lead to my next lesson. I had already learned a long time ago lesson #10, which is "if a trail looks purposely blocked, that means it was PURPOSELY blocked (duh)", but because of all the debris we had already stepped over, neither of us noticed the deliberate branches to divert us, and just hopped right over them. In our defense, we were in no way the only ones, because there were plenty of footprints in the mud leading the way. The really stupid part though, was thinking that the field of horizontal trees in front of us could have been a recent mudslide, and I should venture through it to see if the trail would make itself known on the other side. (this was my suggestion...maybe I wanted to show off? "No worries Debbie, I got this"...oh brother!)
The blockade looked a little more obvious on the way down.
Flight attendant wannabe Debbie is pointing to the correct direction
This is how it looked going up...stay left!!
I'm a little ashamed to admit to this rookie mistake, because I thought after all this time I was getting closer to "pro" status. But considering where I started, (putting my hydration bag in upside that's embarrassing!) I have to remind myself that I really have come a long way. So anyway, the official lesson #43 shall be: If the trail suddenly comes to an end, don't jump to the conclusion that there has just been a massive mudslide, because that is highly unlikely. Just backtrack a little, idiot. ;)
Loved the color of the water
After getting back on track, we soon arrived at the "large root ball" where we had read we could venture off trail to explore a waterfall. "Off trail" was not sounding very appealing at the moment (I still have thorns in my hands from grabbing some God awful plant when I was scrambling) not to mention the fact our time schedule was completely we passed on that adventure. 
We didn't arrive at the lake until 8:00 pm. Even though our mistake cost us some time, I don't think 2 hours is a reasonable estimation of how long this hike takes; though I think the trip report I was reading was a day hike, and I didn't consider what having a 30+ pack would make on time management. 
Once there, we found as usual we had the entire place to ourselves, (can you believe our luck? I read this place is always busy!) so we claimed the best spot and had a fantastic evening. 
Debbie getting the tent view shot
The traditional lights out silly pic
We were visited by a very brazen mouse before we turned in, and in the morning found a bunch of mouse turds on the bear bin lid. Yuck! I tell you, it's not the big creatures you have to worry about killing you; it's the little ones carrying the horrors of hantavirus or Lyme's disease...lesson #44, always bring disinfecting wipes.(and always check for ticks, of course; which I forgot to do. I hear they are going to be bad this year.(shiver))
What a beautiful morning!
We both agreed it was great having the option of the "upper trail" to head back on. It may be a little longer, but it's always nice to have the different scenery of waterfalls and mountain views. Reviews called this section "monotonous", and I suppose that's because it is very straight forward...which is exactly what we both liked about it. Even though it is longer, it took us an hour less time to hike it than the lower trail. With no tricky detours or mud to maneuver around, I would say it was monotonously pleasant.
Thankfully, because of our earlier good decision making, we had plenty of gas to get home, so we didn't have to worry about trying to coast into Granite Falls; though we did stop there to treat ourselves to a greasy burger and ice cream. And speaking of treating yourself...I have big plans for my birthday adventure next month. Cross your fingers for me and check back soon.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your well-written and entertaining blog, great encouragement!