My Summer Vacation
I drove about 1000 miles to go to a special place. I like to drive. Good thing.
My chosen trailhead had two cars parked at it; one an ancient volkswagen van with an equally ancient external frame pack propped against it and a young man puttering around outside. I thought that was neat.
I walked along a trail in a flower wonderland, looking at a great lake. The state bird, the mosquito, kept me company. I had my bug dope so I had no problems. After an old burn, the canyon became rockier and more confined, not quiet with the roar of a snowmelt fed river to keep me company. Lots of greenery in the canopy, lush like the Gila. I was a little worried crossing the creek, I saw a trekking pole jammed in some wood pile in some rapids, unretrievable at this stage of water.
The crossings were interesting. Big granite walls now showed up. It was getting hotter and more humid. I had another crossing, then into a park like area where the river was more mundane and curved lazily like a snake. Green grasses, flowers, bees, birds and skies growing darker with bigger clouds. I got my tent up at the head of the park about 8 miles in minutes before a 3-4 minute hail storm and a 30 minute rain pounding. Then sunny again, and I walked the meadow after I tightened the pitch of my tent.
Day 2 lots of steady uphill courtesy of some well laid out switchbacks. Above treeline, now some snow, and more waters. Temporary small lakes are called "tarns", and they were everywhere. Water is not a problem here, not a luxury, at least not now. Here are the beautiful views, open country and wonderful geology. I saw the tips of big mountains, and I walked toward a wonderful large lake, I dropped my pack and tarried here a while.
Standing a little later at an unnamed pass I saw the big continental divide peaks, Gannett among them, and said "OMG". A small lake sparkled like a jewel in mountain folds. More snow here and the trail vanishing briefly. I stayed high a little while, taking in the view and wanting to never leave.
Eventually I went to a camp by the lake. Wonderful views even here. The lake was marshy on it's edges, lots of mosquitoes here. I retired to my tent early, tucked into 6 huge pines in a full circle with a bare area in the middle perfect for a sheltered camp.
The next day the trail descended along rocky talus slopes and in and out of thick forest. Large tall bare walls, lit by the early light, grand and tall. The first park I was in the walls were 2000 feet tall. These were also as tall.
Lots of small creek hopping. I was able to keep my feet mostly dry, the previous day it was feet wet. Take lots of socks if coming to these mountains at this time.
At the main trail I met a solitary horseman, the first person I had seen on the trail. I took a cutoff trail, ascending again to a pass with the same views of the towering peaks only much closer now, I could see glaciers, and more snow.
The beautiful glacial lake I saw some more backpackers, I dropped my pack and took some time here also.
Up and over to another pass, after some more difficult rocky trail conditions complicated by snow.
I camped night 3 by another larger lake off the main trail. The land here more open but not quite alpine enough for me.
Day 4 I located my return trail, it was very vaque at first then improved markedly. The weather was awesome, sunny cool to warm everyday, mild overnight. Clouds would build, but no weather except the first day. Much more snow on the trail here. Beautiful lakes with millions of waxy white and yellow flowers left as the snow retreated and watered the soil.
A party was ahead of me, I never saw them but followed their tracks in the snow sections. I found this alpine section above treeline as charming and fascinating as the trail to my north. I have found my special place, and hope to spend more time here next year.
Night 4 was in some small white pines; just off another big lake. I was torn here, the trail forked and I had choices. I slept in a little, then made my choice by looking down canyon at more massive granite walls, and the promise of a return down a portion of my initial trek. So beautiful. This trail was very steep, downhill, in very thick gigantic forest for this area. It broke out on a avalanche torn slope, thick with bluebells almost waist deep, and a small cluttered stream. As I got more into the canyon, I was in more thick green and flowers, and I was a little nervous, thinking this was great bear country. I clanked my poles together when I thought about it to announce my presence.
Another crossing of the ice cold river. Slippery log this time, made it without falling off.
Back in the park, different lighting, and hiking by huge boulders with small shelters available.
I was hiking out, but I was in no hurry. Magical country that calls to me even now. Another home, another place for the heart.
I met two women backpackers by the lake, they were thinking of doing my loop and asked me about time and details. I told them to go and do, not think, just look and feel, and love this time in this great country.
The next day I drove to another TH, and did a short dayhike to a natural bridge and to take pics of a lake reflection. Then I pointed my vehicle south, and said my temporary goodbyes, and plan my return even as I go.