August 22, 2006

High Sierras 2006

The new pack (thanks Mom!) was great . I have also worked towards significantly lightening my gear --such a pleasure on the way out at 21 lbs! Even the way in at 35lbs was very nice. The last time I did this hike was at 53lbs on the way in.

The first day was the usual long one. The only hiccup was our wilderness permit was for Friday (we showed up on Saturday) . Fortunately they had plenty of room for walk-ups. It was odd seeing so much water in Florence Lake. It was only about 2 feet below the spillway. We caught the 2:30 ferry across the lake. The South Fork was a good 2 feet above the usual. No way to cross to the hot springs. We got to our usual campsite at Blaney Meadows about 6:30.

Sunday was long for some of our guys. One of the scouts got a little dehydrated (the downside of bladders is that they/we do not know how much liquids are being consumed). The usual crossing was closed and we had to hike up to the meadow to cross. After the first crossing I put on my boots only to find a smaller wet crossing about 150 yds further on. Two of my companins decided to carry me across.

Monday was the short hike day up to Colby Meadows. That has to be one of the best campsites with the river and meadow in front and a big creek to the side. Good fishing for goldens. We steamed them in the pie tins.

Tuesday was the day hike up to Evolution Basin. Didn't waste our energy on climbing that knob this time and made it well above Sapphire Lake. I fell crossing Evolution Creek on the way back. Everyone reminded me that I said the most dangerous thing we would do were river crossings.

We chose not to go into McGeeCanyon feeling here was too much water. The pass from Evolution was very apparent though--maybe next time.

Wednesday we hiked up to Darwin Bench. We headed up the switchbacks to Evolution Basin and then took off cross country the when near the top. Challenging, but within everyone's ability even if they were stretched a bit. We were at the bench in about an hour. Lots of fish in the lake (11,250) . The older boys wanted to go to the next lake while the others fished. We set a return time that allowed us a total of 5 minutes at our destination. We hit 11,600 feet and could see both Mendel and Darwin glaciers (Darwin glacier is where that WWII airman was discovered last fall). We were back to the campsite by 2:00 for more fishing. Caught some nice lake goldens and packed the in snow for the trip down the hill.

Thursday we hiked down to the bridge at Piute Creek. The rangers were wrapping up a Search and Rescue/Recovery for a woman lost in the South fork while cleaning up. Sad story, but a real illustration to everyone about the power of a full river--helicopters can be sobering. Camped a ways off the trail.

On Friday we pushed to Florence where we had bear boxes and an outhouse--luxury at last even if it wasn't a steak dinner. We had our only thunderstorm that evening. My hammock worked great in the rain and hail. Sure better than sleeping on the ground.

Up at 5:45am on Saturday to hike out. Made it to the store by 10:00 and bathed in the lake-felt good. Then just the 6 hour drive home!