Wednesday, July 28, 2010

IPW Backpacking, Day 2

The 12 "Crater Lake" campsites are spread along a length of trail maybe a mile long, so we actually weren't camped that close to Crater Lake. When Laurel got our back-country permit she was told we got one of the last reservations for each night, but we only saw a few other people. It felt like we had the place to ourselves. Our campsite had a stream running through it and a great view of Lone Eagle.

After a breakfast of bagels and almond butter we headed towards the lakes. First up was Mirror Lake, which is connected to Crater Lake by a small stream. There's a great reflected view of Lone Eagle from the shore of this lake.

We walked around Crater Lake and got more great views of Lone Eagle (even though it was still cloudy). We found remnants of an old log cabin that was described as the starting point for a hike we were interested in, so we started up that one.

The mountain we were attempting is unofficially called Cherokee and is not a popular destination (the summit register only had a dozen or so parties listed in the past 5 years). We followed the directions in Gerry Roach's book and snaked our way up the hillside. There was no trail at all so route-finding around the maze of cliffs and greenways was a fun challenge.

At 11,000 feet we obtained a steep 'ramp', followed it north to a saddle at 11,600, and then climbed scree to the top. This upper portion is class 3 and had a few tricky moves where the scree turned into short cliffs that couldn't be circumvented easily.

We descended before the thunderstorms hit and decided to chill out by the lake and soak our tired feet in the cold water. About a quarter of the way around the lake was a very tall and loud waterfall. It was peaceful sitting there enjoying the views.

It thundered a bit and there was a little rain, but we were sure it would pass. Nope. It started raining harder and thundering louder (echoing impressively in the cirque), so we decided to head back to the campsite. On the way it started pouring. We took cover under some trees and waited for it to pass. Again, it did not.

Eventually it did let up a bit so we hightailed it back to camp. We reconfigured the tarp to provide a canopy next to a slightly overhanging rock and managed to cook dinner under there. Making "Thanksgiving" dinner that night (stuffing, chicken, and craisins) was definitely comforting.

We went to bed early because it was still pouring. Of course there's no good way (that we knew of) to get into the tent without bringing in some of the wet, so that wasn't pleasant. Condensation was collecting inside too and we were occasionally dripped on. It rained hard all night. The next morning there was a puddle of water in the tent that my sleeping bag was trying to sop up. It took until almost 10:00 to get enough sunlight to start drying things out.

We never did make it to the other side of Crater Lake to scope out Lone Eagle, but it will still be there next time we're in the neighborhood.

(At the end of our trip, we found out that just 10 miles southeast of us, the town of Eldora got 8 inches of hail that night. So in hindsight, we were lucky!)

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