Happy Trails!

In my teens, I was a Boy Scout, albeit not a very good one. My M.O. wasn’t to move up the ranks with badges or medallions – those didn’t interest me to much. I have always fancied the freedom of meandering outdoors, waking to the sweet aroma of withering trees being whisked by the changing winds and the campfires … awwwh, the — feeling of standing by a burning ring of fire with smoldering hot embers of wood gasping for the last bit of air begging for a fresh log to reawaken itself into a fiery flame of warmth into the cool night. Yes, I learned/experienced a number of things that lend themselves helpful in my general life skills today (basic knot tying, being in the outdoors, etc.), but I was in it for the fun of rough-housing it with the others in the troop. Memories of adolescence days gone by indeed … fast-forward to present day and in the last number of years, I have found different ways to getting outside to enjoy, consume and bathe in what nature gives us – nowadays mostly through photography.

There are times, however, getting away from city life for the sake of exchanging the concrete jungle for dirt jungle in is satisfying at the most basic level. This past weekend, I found myself — another first – backpacking. As a Boy Scout, we did a fair amount of multi-day backpacking – maybe that’s where I didn’t see much point of carrying about a third of your body weight (at the time) into the wild and come right back with the same stuff a few days later. It just seemed like a senseless effort! Today, even with high-tech outdoor gear specifically designed for backpacking, I still can’t say it’s my favorite thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, I’d likely do it again (maybe), but I did learn a lot about the planning and lugging your survival gear to the point of absurdity. Here’s my story …

Across from our campsite on Treasure Lake.

Getting a relatively later start from the trailhead was probably a slight miscalculation, more on that later. We head out over friendly terrain with gentle up and down slopes through shaded forest with the occasional sunbeam poking through the trees. It’s visually a great hike as the trail is chockfull of several water crossing ranging from logs, boulders and wooden bridges as you are pretty much following the meandering stream that eventually leads you to your destination. As the distance increased, so too did the inclines and elevation – I guess this is typical for trails like this; it’s a workout on the lungs for sure! We had received reports that the presence of snow was likely near the top (or about 1/4-mile from the top) and weather was clear in the low 60s (*F). By the time we reached the snow line, we were 2nd guessing pressing on as we didn’t know how much (worse) it might get and more importantly, the sun was getting lower by the minute and quickly approaching the ridge to the west. Making quicker decisions to make it through the thigh deep snow in many sideways approaches, we finally reached Treasure Lake. With about 45 mins left of sunlight, camp was setup in record time and even had enough sunlight to cook a much needed hot meal – sparked up the water boiler and rehydrated a yummy bag of Beef Stroganoff before settling into the tent for the night. Water was plentiful as filter lake water is as pristine as you can get.

Setting up camp beside the half frozen Treasure Lake was surrounded and protected by snow covered terrain making for limited exploration during the day – bummer. From the high winds of the day giving way to a snowy evening that continued on and off throughout and into the morning, we decided to hightail it off the mountain as early as possible, not soon after daybreak. On the way down and after getting past the more gnarly snow covered traverses, we were treated to a snowy downfall through the forest – a truly magical hike back to the car.

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