Friday, July 30, 2010

IPW Backpacking, Day 4

We woke up to a cold morning. Luckily our campsite was situated high above the foggy valley floor. Despite our trouble setting up the tent in the rain, we actually had a fairly dry night.

After another hot oatmeal breakfast, we packed up and hiked back down to the Buchanan Pass Trail. Another long day ahead -- up and over the pass plus another mountain or two on the Divide if time and weather allowed.

The overgrown single-track trail wound through quintessential Rocky Mountain landscape -- jagged, rocky peaks, tall pine forests, and meadows of wild flowers in every color. It was very wet because of all the rain, so every time we had to squeeze through a clump of bushes we got soaked.

We summited Buchanan Pass. The last half mile of trail was super steep! We decided to skip Sawtooth Mountain, less than a mile south along the divide, because the clouds looked so threatening and it was already after 11am.

We hiked down the rocky east side of the pass and found a flat area near treeline to set up our tent. This location would set us up for a number of possible hikes the next day.

As soon as the tent was up and the bags were stashed under the tarp, it started storming. This time, we were dry and all our stuff was dry. Amazing! We played cards in the tent and looked at maps for a while, and before we knew it the storm had passed.

Once we thought it was all clear, we headed off trail towards Coney Island, a small mountain in the area. However, we only made it about a quarter mile before hearing thunder again. The rest of our route would be above treeline, exposed to lightning. Back to camp to wait it out. We decided instead to hike to Red Deer Lake, since the trail is entirely below treeline. It was another very pretty lake.

We hiked back to camp quickly to try to beat the rain, but failed. Once again, Laurel cooked dinner in the rain. It was great having warm soup on a cold rainy night. We ate Ramen noodles, soy nuts, and veggies under cover of a few trees -- delicious!

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