Monday, June 30, 2014

Beware the Bad Chipmunks of Ice Lake

I strolled back toward my tent in a good mood. Lately obligations have kept me from backpacking, and so I had concocted what most saw as a crazy scheme. I would hike up on Sunday, spend the night, and wake up super early to race down the mountain in order to be on time for a video conference on Monday. The hike was not insignificant, so everything had to fall into place, but I knew it would be worth it.



As I hiked toward another lake, I passed three backpackers headed for the trailhead. They divulged that they had been at Ice Lake. Ice Lake! I had been sure it was snowbound. They said they had to "climb over some drifts" but "it was too late to turn back." The third person in line looked traumatized. "The lake refroze last night," he muttered. "So cold."

I had been planning to head for Horseshoe Lake, but Ice was only eight miles, which would make it easier to make the deadline. And why not? Ice Lake is one of my favorites. As it turned out, the "drifts" were merely a few snow patches, nothing to worry about. I lay around in the sun, reading and taking about fifty pictures of the same lake. Harmless little chipmunks raced about. So cute, I thought.



Then everything changed. As I approached my tent, I saw it. A chipmunk! Inside the tent! It raced around in terror, finally jumping out the hole it had chewed to get in. 

AARGH!!! I had just repaired the two holes that my poles had torn in this tent, and I had only slept in it five nights! What is it about this tent? I could foresee another order of McNett's Bug Net Repair in my future. As I sat and pondered this event, I noticed a creepy deer stalking me. No amount of chasing it away made it leave.

The tent, prior to the Chewing Incident.

Ice Lake is beautiful, but it is also accessible. It draws in the inexperienced, because the trailhead is close to the state park. The trail is nicely graded, and although it's an eight mile hike to a pretty high elevation, it's totally within the grasp of the reasonably fit. The animals are getting habituated to people, and it's not great to see. It means people have been careless with their food, and the chippies and deer know. They don't forget.

After the day hikers left I had the lake to myself. Stars twinkled overhead, seen through the (chewed) netting. Getting up at 3:30 didn't seem so bad, hiking by headlamp until an hour later, it was light enough to see. I was back before 6:30, ready to begin the work day. The chipmunks? They lie in wait. Beware.

Good night, Ice Lake.


13 comments:

  1. Ha ha ha. Those little buggers! What a nuisance! Gosh, people need to be smart when they are camping about not teaching the animals bad habits. Even I know that... and I don't camp. But I do feed animals when I am not camping. Is that ok? Eek!

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    1. Ahhhhhhhhhh! Nooooo! Although I do think it is worse to feed animals in the wilderness, because they really need to eat the food sources their bodies are adapted to. If they get used to human food, what happens when humans go away..? Those seeds just don't cut it once you've eaten chips...

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  2. Nice photos! Yeah, I've encountered some very friendly chipmunks while hiking in the Gorge this spring. And I watched while some newbie hikers shared their food with the little buggers.

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    1. Noooooo! Up on the gondola here, the management teaches kids to FEED THEM. As a result the chippies are a menace. They swarm you if you stop. It's quite frightening.

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  3. How good is life then?!!! Wake to this amazing view and head off to work. Fantastic.

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    1. I know, it makes sitting at a computer all day almost bearable!

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  4. That looks like the perfect overnight getaway! .....except for the squirrels.

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  5. You would love it, Karen, I hope you guys can make it up here someday.

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  6. Yep...I had a chippie stalk me from behind and run across my lap last year on the gondola. Yes my kids thought it was appropriate to feed them until I caught them and gave them the talking to. One of the first things I taught my kids was to pick up all of their food items and make sure coolers were shut tight. What part of Leave No Trace do people not understand. It drives me batty.

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    1. The gondola people want to have a campground up there. Can you imagine? It would be Chipmunk Hell.

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    2. I say no campground... yuck. It would take away from the beauty up there. Besides who would camp up there when you have the great SP at the bottom. Ugh! Tell the Kim from Spokane says no campground on top. I won't ride the gondola if they do that. Hmpphhh!

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  7. I love that you were able to squeeze in a backpack trip like this. I am always looking forward to the next big trip, but finding adventure whenever you can fit it in is pretty important.

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    1. I know--it's easy to get inertia when faced with work, etc. I have to make myself get out there. I do like big trips though!

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