Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Beyond the Lake

I trundled up the trail, finally getting into the groove. A week's worth of rain and work had kept me mostly inside, and my legs took a few minutes to loosen up. But once I got going, I was rolling. The trail up to Lake Blanche is fairly steep, but my pack was light and my attitude was similar. I passed many groups of people coming down from the lake, headed back to their cars and beds in the valley. I was headed the other way - to spend the night at Lake Blanche, and then over the ridge into the next canyon over the next day. I was looking forward to a beautiful campsite at my favorite lake in the Wasatch.

My plans started to unravel quickly, however. I passed a group of Boy Scouts - their packs bulging with stuff. In their hands, they carried all the things that wouldn't fit in their enormous backpacks. I would have chucked at the sight of carrying fifty pounds of stuff on a six-mile round-trip hike. But their complaints and panting breaths were a sad reminder - many of these boys would grow up to hate backpacking, because carrying that much crap just plain sucks. If they had moms and dads and scout leaders who ensured that they packed light, so as to enjoy the journey... who knows how many more of them would learn to love their time spent in the outdoors?

I passed more scouts. And more. And more. At least twenty five of them, with their leaders to boot. They were yelling raucously to each other, as boys are prone to do. My serene night at the lake was going to be ruined.

I arrived at the lake just as the sun was going down. There were already several groups camped there, children's shrieks reverberating off the water. And all those groups I had passed would be arriving shortly. Somewhere a dog started barking. I felt myself getting more and more annoyed. One thing was certain - I did not want to spend the night around this circus.

I had planned to hike up into the upper drainage the next morning, and cross the ridge. But I sure wasn't camping here. I had to press on. I climbed a few hundred feet on a faint use trail above the lake, and into the upper drainage. I looked in vain for a nice sheltered campsite under a few stubby trees, but flat ground was nowhere to be found. I walked out into a nice flat bench overlooking the lake - and in the last vestiges of twilight, tossed my bivy and sleeping bag on the ground. I could have set up my tarp, but that just seemed wrong - on a beautiful evening such as this, cowboy camping was really the only option.

The stars were bright, the sky was dark - even though I could see the Salt Lake City lights five thousand feet below. And the view when I woke up the next morning was incredible - perhaps the mos picturesque campsite I've ever had. There isn't always time to embark on an extended trip. But when time is limited, it pays to get away and get some solitude - that is, to venture beyond the lake.