I have a hard time accepting the fact that there are people in the world who have never packed the essentials on their backs and spent nights out in the wild. So when I found out that my friend Cally had never been backpacking before I immediately knew that was a wrong that needed to be righted.
It had been nothing but nonstop rain for over a week, but there was supposed to be a break in the weather that was coincidentally on a Friday and Saturday. We packed our bags the night before over Skype to coordinate who was carrying what and as soon as I was out of work on Friday we hit the road for the trailhead.
The start of the trail lies in a parking lot just on the outskirts of Eagle River, AK. It’s a 6 mile hike out to the lakes that is on a fast, flat trail until you come to a slightly more technical boulder field in the last mile.
The sky looked ready to soak us at any moment as we strapped our Kelty’s to our backs. Come rain or shine we were trekking to a new destination for the both of us – one step at a time. Thankfully, not a single drop fell from the sky as we made our way through the valley towards our destination for the night.
Once we found finally found ourselves emerging from the far end of the boulder field we searched for just the perfect spot to pitch our tent. When it was found we made camp and settled in for the night.
One of the top four worst feelings in the world is being all cozy and snug in your sleeping bag in the middle of a chilly night and the unwavering urge to pee strikes you. As if being at home in the comforts of your house in the middle of the night when this happens isn’t bad enough, I now found myself, somewhere around the hour of midnight with just such a predicament. There was no hope for waiting it out, so I threw on a fleece I had hidden in my bag with me, unzipped my bright yellow Marmot Ouray, and begrudgingly tied my shoelaces. Out the hatch I flew into the dusk (I was able to guestimate the time of night by the amount of darkness that had fallen on us this time of year/night) and down a short path to the spot I was deeming my bathroom. As I looked out over the beautiful dark blue Symphony Lake I knew that even though I was up to pee in the middle of the night (thanks bladder), at least there wasn’t a better view for miles around to do my business. I repeated my process in reverse and quickly settled back in for the night. Just before I could drift off to sleep again my heart began to race at a sound in the [not far enough for comfort] distance. I closed my eyes and relaxed my breathing so that I could better make out the sound I thought I had just heard. Over the sound of my own racing heart in my ears I could hear the heavy footfall of something not far away. I strained my ears to differentiate the noise of the animal from one (happyface = moose) to the other (frownyface = bear). I had unholstered my revolver long before it stepped into the clearing of our campsite but when it did it finally put it within viewing distance of about 4-6 feet away from our tent in the darkness. I had never been more excited to see a big, beautiful bull moose in my life. He continued on his way, grazing on the shrubs as he went. As soon as I could get myself to relax again I drifted off back to dreamland. ZzZzZz.
At first morning light we attempted to summit a nearby ridgeline in search of a geocache by one of my favorite cachers – MTboy (see the waterfall cache we hiked to back in May) – but were turned around at a stream crossing that was beyond what we had prepared for thanks to the recent heavy rainfall. I was not even the slightest bit disappointed as we sat in a small boulder field behind Symphony Lake being serenaded by the tiny screams of Pika.
After sitting for a long while we headed back to camp for breakfast overlooking Symphony Lake. Our camp was set up on the spine of a lateral moraine between the two lakes. Each lake gets its water from different sources; one from glacial run-off and the other from snow melt and groundwater. This causes the water colors to vary dramatically from one lake to the next so you’ll note the color of one as deep blue and the other as turquoise.
We packed up camp after breakfast and, with our packs once again on our backs, headed for the Jeep. Before we got there though, there were a few geocaches still to find.
Thanks for a new adventure in the books Cally! I appreciate that you’re always down for one.