Day 67: Sleeping Again Among the Giants

Memories from June 26

Having hiked this way before, I wasn’t expecting to be really impressed by the scenery or adventure. Today, at least, I was wrong.

The trail crosses two tributaries of this river. Here’s the first. I made it with dry feet but have a new record for how close I’ve gotten to doing the splits while bridging rocks on a rock hop (the name “rock hop” for crossing a Creek by walking on rocks is a but of a misnomer in that most people won’t cross that way if they actually have to do any hopping instead of just taking large steps).

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Here’s the other tributary. Longest log bridge so far.

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And I wasn’t even done with stream crossings. Some were wet foot and some dry but most for the rest of the morning were crossings of Wilson’s Creek which I like to think was named after me. Here’s the last one.

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In the valley before that, I crosses this stream where I remember taking a picture of cowboys and horses show made up part of a pack train.

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I didn’t know this before but sometimes streams just disappear into the ground. This is the end of a small, but not insignificant stream which had been crashing merrily down next to the switchbacks I’d been descending.

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The next climb had significant snow patches and you could see where people much earlier in the season had diverged wildly from the trail. Twice, while looking around to see where to go next, I saw hikers sitting or laying down. I like to think of these as autonomous, mobile cairns. The top of the hill was a lot like a minor pass.

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Cool water-like patterns in some rock.

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At Smedberg Lake, I met a group of hikers, about half of whole I’d met previously in passing. I joined them for a break and to let gear dry from the morning’s condensation. We saw a deer walk through the middle of the lake (sorry, this was a particularly hasty picture) so I went wading to see what slightly submerged walkways I could find and was able to get to a number of the rocks you see in the lake. I was finally bested by and underwater log crossing attempting to get the largest island.

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Benson Lake. When I was last here the water was lower which revealed a long, gradually sloped beach.

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Waterboy, having successfully not fallen off the first log bridge contemplates a second crossing.

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Here’s the log bridge for one of the streams near Benson Lake. It’s a great illustration of the word almost. I was able to hop the gap but Waterboy has a hurt foot and had to find another route.

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Some nice views from the last climb of the afternoon. Waterboy had been leading since I decided to hike out of Smedberg Lake with him but was struggling as this climb wore on. I showed him how to walk using glutes and hamstrings on well graded uphill. I hadn’t previously though about how useful it is to be able to switch between muscle groups when walking uphill.

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I camped tonight where I think I camped on my penultimate night from my hike six years ago. That evening was unique in its emotional magnitude and so I wanted to revisit the site. It’s hard to capture with pictures but the simplified description is atop a wide rock ridge overlooking complex valleys running north-south to the east and west and two grand, if worn peaks rising on the ridge to the south.

My shadow on some trees to the east.

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Sunset to the southeast.

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Sunset over the southern view of the western valley.

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The ridgeline is wide with pools and trees.

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The impact wasn’t the same this time for many reasons but I was really glad to have slept again, “among the giants of creation” as I’d written after sleeping here last time. One of the reasons it didn’t have the same effect is that on this trip, I’ve met bigger giants on this hike. One thing today did show is that it’s not just the size, ruggedness, and snow which make a mountain trail inspiring.

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