Hello, friends! How’s the week treating you? My week started off a little rocky, but I feel like I’m on an upswing now. I am a self-diagnosed mild insomniac, and every so often I have nights where I just do not sleep. Sunday was one of them. I fell asleep about 10:15 Sunday night, woke up at 12:30, and I was up for the duration. Bad news-I started a Monday with two hours of sleep. Good news-I am now almost finished with my new favorite show which I’ll tell you all about it my next Currently post!
So, as promised, a month and a half after the fact I’m here to finish up our annual backpacking story. I’ve already detailed the fun we had the first week, and now I’m going to wrap it up with the second week John and I did on our own.
The original plan was to head to Wyoming after the rest of the group left to head home, but, the week before the trip, John started calling all the ranger stations in the areas we were going to be. He does this every year just to check in about trail conditions and what not, and it’s a great habit to get into if you’re setting out into the backcountry.
When he talked to the Wyoming station, he was informed that the trail looked good but that we definitely needed to make sure we had bug spray and even a head net. Apparently, the bugs were out in full force already (a risk you always run in the summer time. The one down fall of a teacher schedule is that we can’t hike in the best times of the year!). We talked about it, and decided very quickly that dodging mosquitoes did not in any way sound like our idea of a fun vacation. We opted to spend the second week in Colorado.
We came off the first trail on that Friday, and said goodbye to the rest of our group early Saturday morning. John and I spent that day in town relaxing and letting John do his trail magic. I swear-you give that guy a map and in a matter of an hour he can put together an amazing adventure!
We set off to the trail early Sunday morning feeling rested and ready to go. The trip was going to be a strenuous one, but, after being confined to the tent for so much of the first week because of the rain, we were more than ready to stretch our legs.
We arrived at the Pine River Trailhead and started towards Emerald Lake, the first night destination. Emerald Lake is a popular spot in San Juans, and it is easy to see why. It’s absolutely beautiful. It takes ten miles to get to with the first five being fairly flat. However, once you make the turn to go, the next five miles is a steep uphill that seems to go on forever. That being said, we were pretty proud to make it to camp around 2:00.
We set up camp, poked around a little bit, and decided to filter water. Around that time, the rains started once again, and we were forced back to the tent for the duration of the evening. John and I gave each other looks, but tried not to discuss what we were both fearing.
The rains cleared sometime around ten, and we woke the next morning to, if not clear skies, then at least no real threat of imminent rain. We started the uphill with plans to make it over the pass to Rock Lake. It was supposed to be another ten-mile day, and we knew pretty quickly that was going to be tough. Until you cross the pass, it trail was all uphill, and our legs were feeling it after the previous day.
By the time we made the six miles to Moon Lake, we were exhausted, and knew we needed to take a real rest before attempting to cross the pass. We hung out by the lake for a while and watched the clouds start to build up. It became clear that the weather wasn’t going to allow us to get to Rock Lake that day so we set up camp. We still had hopes to make up our mileage the next day and continue on as planned.
And then the rains came. Around 3:00, it started pouring, and we spent several hours (again) in the tent. Before long, John noticed something strange on his side of the tent, and we realized it was floating! The water was pooling, and we were in real danger of flooding our tent and everything in it.
Imagine, if you will, two soaked to the skin figures in the middle of a rain storm unstaking a tent and carrying it several hundred yards to a somewhat less wet patch of ground. We were not amused.
By the time, we cooked dinner under the tent vestibule, and I proceeded to knock the pot and all its contents onto the ground, we were done. The neverending rain had beaten us, and we decided we had to call time of death on the whole trip.
The next morning we packed up camp, and headed down. It started raining again by the time we got back to Emerald Lake, and we proceeded to hike the rest of the way to the car because the thought of spending another 14 hours in a tent was too much for us to handle. In total, we hiked sixteen miles just to get to dry conditions.
The first thing you have to learn about backpacking is that you are playing in nature. There are some things that you just can’t control, and weather is number one on that list so we try to take it in stride. Nevertheless, we are already crossing our fingers that next time is better, and it didn’t take long to wish we were back out there!