Monday, June 18, 2007

Blanca Lake

Well, Blanca Lake was an adventure. The first and closest road (63) was washed out from last winter's floods, so Nathan navigated us to the next road (65) to go around the long back way. We already knew we were going to have to hike to the trail head from the road, we just didn't realize which road they were referring to. We got there sometime in the late afternoon and walked to the trailhead just to see what it was like since we had no idea what to expect. The closed road was littered with scat (not sure of the animal), but it seemed something had made a trail out of it. The devastation was quite impressive and the third scramble was a little challenging with packs on. Because we arrived a little later than we wanted to hike up and find a spot, we decided to stay at a campsite just down the road that we had passed on the way in. It was situated along a beautiful river. It was absolutely gorgeous. The bugs were out but not in full force yet, so they were manageable. When we arrived, we scored a hatchet under some split wood around the fire ring, but the wood was too wet and we never got a campfire going. :( I set up the tent with the sleeping pads and bags and then got dinner on. We had beef stroganoff from the package, and man was it awful! But it was warm, so I ate up. As the evening wore on, the meal disagreed with us more and more and we just about suffocated ourselves to death in the tent during the night! After washing dishes and getting everything put back up in the truck, we got into the tent to escape the gnats and skeeters. I was so sad that we had to leave Bexar in the back of the truck throughout the night and Bex was too. :( I hate leaving him anywhere...I know...I'm lame! We took the small snow tent since we thought we were backpacking so there was no room for him in the tent. We had a restless night of tossing and turning and an early morning, getting up at 4:45 am. It was somewhat overcast and once we got up and about, fixing a warm breakfast of oatmeal, it began to sprinkle on us. We took our time washing dishes and getting packed up and headed over to start hiking. Thankfully, we didn’t have to carry everything in our backpacks, as mine was too heavy considering my lack of energy that morning. A park ranger had stopped by our camping spot the night before and informed us that there was snow on top of the mountain, so I opted for my heavy boots, as I wanted warm, dry socks and feet. Bad idea…I hadn’t hiked in my big boots in a very long time. I had forgotten how heavy they were and it didn’t take long for them to start rubbing blisters on my heels. We began walking to the trailhead at 7:26 am. The trail began with a jaunt through a lot of old growth and proceeded into a ton of switchbacks up a mountain. Because the road accessing the trailhead has been closed since last winter, the trail was littered with several downed trees, which made the going even slower. It rained on us the entire trip, so I just left the camera in the bag on the way up. The trail was quite steep and difficult with tons of exposed tree roots, which were slippery when wet. As we neared the top, we began to hit patches of icy snow. I slipped and caught myself, but when I did, my knee went one way while my body went the other. This caused quite a bit of pain, but after a rest, I was able to continue on…even slower! The higher we got, the more snow we saw and the more pain I was in…I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. We had hiked this far, though, and I was determined to at least get to the top. The lake was supposed to be over the other side of the mountain and I REALLY wanted to see it. Nathan went ahead and scouted the trail because we knew we were very close, but after a few switchbacks, he still couldn’t see the top. The amount of the snow continued to increase and we just didn’t have the right gear for hiking in it. So, because of the trail conditions, the ucky weather, and my exhaustion and pain, we turned around and opted to do it another day. Even if we did make it to the top, we couldn’t have gotten any good pics because it was so cloudy. In fact, we were cloud walkers that day. Shortly after turning around, we ran into another couple with a dog. We were so surprised, but apparently there are other crazy people like us out there! On the way back, Nathan declared that he didn’t care that we didn’t make it to the top because the joy for him was just hiking through the wilderness. I had to agree, although, secretly admitting that my joy was hiking through the wilderness with him and Bexar. I doubt that I would enjoy it that much without them…or maybe at all. Maybe my joy is just being with them, no matter where we are!

By the time we reached the truck, we had hiked about 9 miles in 7 hours (at a snail’s pace) and I didn’t know if I could walk another step. I was exhausted and in loads of pain, with my tummy queasy from the tasty beef stroganoff, my heels rubbed raw (or so I thought), my crushed pinky toes hurting so badly I thought my toenails might fall off, the bottoms of my feet throbbing with pain, my shoulders aching from carrying my pack (although just about empty) and my knee receiving sharp pains when bent 40 degrees or more. Boy, I was a mess! We were both absolutely filthy, soaked in sweat and I stunk to high heaven. I seriously don’t think I stunk that badly when I hadn’t taken a shower in 6 days during the Boundary Waters canoe trip!

All in all, I was glad we did it. I realized I need to get in better shape before trying that trail again and I won’t be wearing the heavy hiking boots anytime soon! We had a good time together, so that’s what counts. :D We also wore Bex out, as he plopped down in the truck the second we returned! He slept all day Sunday & Monday and has been the best snuggler ever! After catching a quick bite at Red Robin, we headed home, changed into our swimsuits, and went directly to the hot tub. We didn’t unload anything, didn’t pass go, and didn’t collect our $200! It felt wonderful…we must have stayed an hour or so, and finally left when we began dozing in the hot tub!!
The good news: we’re both recovered and my knee is fine. I still have a small hiccup in my getty-up, but nothing some time in the hot tub won’t fix!

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