Thursday, September 8, 2016

Day 4- Leave No Trace?

15 miles to 2442

Serenaded by sweet owl hoots in predawn hours. Pure tones like a flute in open space amphitheater. The hooting goes on for over an hour then it stops and we get up.

What are all these evergreens called?  Why does my phone not have a pdf of the "Trees of Washington"? Major gear error.  Cedars? Are these hemlocks, with the hemlock-like needles and hemlock-like cones. Shouldn't someone with a trail name like "Hemlock" who sometimes pretends to be a botanist know a hemlock even if they are different than the eastern kind.
Deep Lake
 Today the mileage goal is to stay below 15- quite a challenge for day 4 when legs are feeling strong and feet are uncomplaining. Still not overdoing it must be the priority.  Or rather taking time to really be here and be joyful is the priority.  So at the stream while Jan fiddles with her water, turning over rocks reveals tiny mayfly larvae.  

Swimming is another top priority.  Deep Lake is the deepest aquamarine cradled by jagged peaks. Silent insects hover above the surface. I superman glide in so as not to stir up the log-covered bottom. Icy water prickles my skin and steels breath from my lungs. My body feels at one with this place. 

Dripping down the trail, I tell Jan about my Leave No Trace swimming guilt.  How there might be salts and sweat on my skin that pollute the lakes. How maybe I should quit swimming. I remember this idea that there should be LNT credits that can be traded. Like if I pick up trash or do trail maintenance that I could earn some points that I can trade in for a swim. Just then, there is an old glass beer bottle propped up on a log next to the trail.  Even though it is 30 miles to the next trashcan, I know what I have to do.
My new companion for the the next two nights.
From the lake, the trail switchbacks up and the lake gets further and further away. After crossing the shoulder of Cathedral Rock, the next set of mountains are revealed.  Cinnamon pepper granite peaks rise above the valley and Hyas Lake.

We descend to "Caution Dangerous Ford". And sigh with relief that the water is relatively low. Even so it's sketchy don't look down phew we made it.
To the ford!
 Fog rolls in covering the higher peaks. The rain starts by 3.  A light pacific northwest rain.

Jan and I find a campsite in a protected grove of cedars.
Jan sets up camp while I eat dinner under my tarp.
Tonight, I watch rain falling for hours. Raindrops ping and roll down the tarp. Steady and soft. 


  1. If someone told me I had to quit swimming in lakes, I would have to quit backpacking.It's a big reason why I go. Actually, when I did a mercury study in the Eagle Cap Wilderness and realized how much mercury accumulation there is in the lakes from both natural and unnatural sources, I decided I didn't feel bad about a one minute dive.

    1. Thank you Mary! I'll remember that my impact doesn't compare to these larger impacts. Much appreciated.

  2. Good one Joan. I don't understand how anyone who gets out there into remote areas with such beauty and wonder all around could even consider for one moment leaving a beer bottle or rubbish there. Good on you for picking up . It's a bummer to have to carry out other people's stuff , especially when one likes to keep pack weight down. I also carry out others stuff and really appreciate those who does the same.
    It's a tough one re the swim or no swim dilemma. I think about this as well. I would imagine you would not have too many foreign chemicals etc on you and salts are part of nature and nature does compensate for animals swimming in water etc. I think the impact would not be too significant, but it is worth paying respectful thought to this.

    1. Glad you pack out trash too. I think it makes a huge difference-- at sites that have a little trash people are more likely to pack out trash. But we saw one trashed lake that some FS volunteers were carrying out a ton of trash from- apparently no one else felt the need to clean it up since doing so was so much work.

  3. I appreciate your concern with polluting the lake, but consider: Assuming the lake was say 235 ft in diameter and 1 foot deep= 1 acre-foot of volume. An acre-foot is 1,233,480,000 ml. So scrape all the salts and crud off your body and say it amounts to a volume of an ounce of stuff or about 30 cc. So that is a ratio of 30:1,233,480,000 or 1 to 41,116,000. Or if you like to think in terms of a drop in a bucket... this is only 1/2172nd of a drop in the bucket. Admittedly not zero, but I think you're ok. Enjoy the journey!

    1. Wow thanks for the numbers to put it in perspective! Now that's reasoning that adds up!

  4. I'm going to echo the earlier commenters....don't worry about it!

  5. That creek you forded drains the Hyas Glacier on Mt. Daniel. I was there last year, about the third week of August. But it was such a dry year that I'm sure the water level was comparable to what you had. Anyway, I forded, rather than cross on the log, and I was glad for the 3-4 cairns that showed a reasonable path.