Friday, July 10, 2015

Blanca Bites

Lake Blanca is actually one of the most beautiful I have seen. Who would not be memorized by that gleaming cyan colored water with mountains all around? I saw one picture someone posted on a hiking page, and immediately put it on the top of my to do list. The merely 3.5 miles to the lake made it seem like a no-brainier; the perfect place to bring my oldest daughter on her second backpack. 
Amber is not the biggest fan of sleeping in the wilderness; but the fact we encountered no animals with fangs on our first outing together lessened her fears, and warmed her up to the "enchantments" of backpacking. (our first hike being in the Enchantments, wink wink) 
We love our toothless creatures!

She has also expressed her serious dislike of any hike with an unrelenting upward incline...but I had every confidence that the breathtaking beauty of Blanca would make up for the 3300 feet of elevation you had to endure to get there. 
Now, if I was someone who actually had a clue about distances measured in feet, this number would have probably alarmed me; but the truth is if you tell me something is more than about 20 ft, my brain says "huh?". I know, it's sad; and I'm going to really work on it because I'm finding it's kind of an important thing to get a grip on if you want to be a hiker that isn't cursing a lot. 
Coming upon the first "lake" without knowing what to expect,
you may think you got punked
I'm guessing though, that there are quite a few people without a clue of the concept of gaining that much elevation in roughly 3 miles, because I have never had so many hikers ask me the desperate plea of ,"Are we almost there?" (yes, I also asked on my way up...twice) I totally understood their confusion. Your mind is continuously saying "3 miles is nothing; I have to be getting close"...but it's a trick. Do this hike and I promise you will be over it a mile in. 
I have to admit I got a sort of guilty pleasure out of giving those hopeful faces the sympathetic grimace when I answered them, "Not really"...but there was one couple I truly felt bad for. They both had babies on their backs, and it was the hottest part of the day. She looked like she might pass out when I gave them the dreaded "Your not even half way" answer, and I honestly wished I had told them they should turn around. There is a short rock scramble at the very top that I consider not exactly baby friendly...not to mention that once they got there they'd have to turn right around and do the punishing push down if they were going to make it out before dark. Though stunning, I don't think Blanca was going to make it worth it.
First look at Blanca...
I might have said "So what" if I had a crying baby on my back.
Thankfully, Amber and I had a whole day to recover; and it really did take that long. It wasn't until the next morning when we started feeling like this trip was a good idea. Some other hikers gave us a great tip and told us you could maneuver over the log jam to the other side where there is a more secluded beachy area to swim. Finally, the horrors of the day before were forgiven.

The floaties were a good idea after all! Hooray!
Except they are a pain to deflate
Okay, they may have been a bad idea
Something that isn't forgivable, though, is the amount of trashing this place has taken. It was pretty disgusting. The sweet man who shared the lake with us that night (with his young daughter; who didn't even seemed phased by the difficulty of the not fair!) used the word "desecrated". I tried to do my part and pick up-- but I'm sorry; I am not going to touch used toilet paper and tampon applicators. I know I am not the perfect hiker (I confess to a couple illegal campfires in the past) but a big ol' pile of poop not even 20 feet from the campsite?!? (I can calculate that far ;))...come on, people.
Check out my back...holy bug bites!

Goodbye Blanca!
I hoped that the fun we had on day two would indeed make it up to Amber; but that mercilessly jarring trip down--complete with several falls, scratches from rouge branches, a slightly twisted ankle (she's okay) and nearly running face first into a dangling spider...well, the jury is still out. Bless her heart though, when I asked if she'd ever go with me again, she said yes...because she thought I had "learned my lesson" about not paying attention to elevation gain. She also told me I had to "warn people" about this hike. I believe I have done both.
Beginning with such hope...
and finishing with such pain.