It can snow anytime, and the forecast called for a 30% chance. Three years ago, these lakes were already frozen. It seems so soon. There are so many places I didn't get to this year. As we hastily set up our tents, fighting the wind, I calculate: I've spent 32 nights out this year. Not bad, not as many as I would have liked.
There are a few other hardy souls in the basin, but not many. Inexplicably, several of them hike right through our camp to see what's over here even though there are several unoccupied sites they could have gone through. They are all from Portland. Not to generalize, but city folk seem a bit less shy about galloping through camps instead of skirting around.
We hike up to Upper Lake, just to stay warm and postpone getting in our tents. But by six we concede defeat. It is just too cold to stay out.
It's nice to have an evening with nothing to do but read and doze, even if I never really do get warm. In the morning, T and I agree: our feet were blocks of ice all night long. We have been in denial, because just a day ago it was eighty degrees. Last night it dropped to the low 20s. We don't have our winter gear with us. We have our down jackets, mittens, hats, and the usual survival gear, but not the gear for deep winter. It's time for that, if we go out again.
We climb Ivan Carper Pass and head down the rocky, slow-going path to the trailhead, finishing up a seventeen mile loop. On the second day, we see nobody until we nearly reach the end: a hunter, sitting quietly in the woods with his rifle. Backpacking season is over, but it's been a good run. I hiked 450 miles of the PCT and many more miles in these mountains. My shoes are worn out. I have a weird pain in the top of my foot. I was unusually annoyed by the rocky sections where our pace slowed to less than two miles an hour. "Maybe it's time for a break," T suggests. She is probably right.
|Ivan Carper Pass|
I can't get as worked up about winter as I can about summer. People holler about skiing, but mostly you come home at night, days are short, lots more time inside. Still, I wouldn't want to go back to endless summer in the desert or swamp, places where you need air conditioning to survive.
I put away my backpacking gear. For the last time this year? I think about how if I had unlimited funds and time, I'd extend the season: Backpacking in New Zealand? L writes our Christmas group about a Death Valley trip. Maybe it's not over yet.
Are you a winter or a summer person? Is it hard to give up your summer hobbies when the season changes?
|Blue Lake in the distance|