Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Hike: South Coldwater Trail to Lakes Trail Loop

Distance: 11.6 miles
Type: Loop

Elevation Gain: 2011 feet

High Point: 3948 feet

Duration: N/A


The Hike 

We parked at the boat launch and headed out on the west side of the lake. It hugs the shoreline pretty closely until the far end of the lake. From there it climbs up some switchbacks.

There was still snow covering the trail in spots as it was just mid to late spring.

We'd assumed the trail was same on the east side of the lake, i.e. hugging the shoreline. When it didn't, we should have turned back but instead forged ahead.

At some point we lost the trail and we traversed the hillside, sometimes through knee-deep snow.

We were woefully unprepared for this outing: not familiar with the trail, a late start to the hike, under-dressed for the weather, little water if any.

We hiked SW on the ridge as best we could but eventually it got dark.

There was a glow on the horizon but nothing to illuminate where we were. I remember steeping through a bush and down a little embankment. I imagined 100 ft drops that I'd seen on previous visits to the area. Scary.

We finally made it to a point on the ridge where we could see the lake and amber lights at the parking lot, hundreds of feet below. I think we futilely yelled for "help" a few times.

It started to sprinkle a little so we tried for find anything to shelter against. There are no standing trees for many miles, esp. in the blast zone. It would have been epic if we'd been there on purpose.

By luck or fate, we found some logging equipment, it's wheels deflated & half buried in the dirt. 

Not much of a shelter by at least something to lean against. There were a few logs nearby that we were able to pull some tinder to start a little fire. S. had some notebook paper and I had a lighter so we got a fire going.

It was so quiet out there. Just wind and far off howls of wolves or coyotes, seemingly miles away.

Neither of us got much sleep. Every so often the fire needed more wood. I remember N. didn't even have long pants. Like I said, we were so not prepared.

Just before dawn I was so parched. I blinked repeatedly trying to will my eyes to see through the darkness. I could see the difference in color between the dirt and a little embankment of snow.

It was more or less solid. I scraped a little bit off the top with my fingernails and put it in my mouth. Finally some moisture, hydration, even just a thimble's amount.

With each minute, the sky brightened. We were anxious to get moving and let the fire die out.

The trail was discernible at this point. We continued downhill through the curves. It was easy to see there was no way we could have done this without a flashlight.

We were so glad to finally reach the road. My mind was already thinking about what I wanted to eat & drink as we walked back to the parking lot.

All I had in the truck was a bit of water from the ice I'd had in my fountain drink the day before. 

Soon we were driving out of the park. A park ranger passed us just before the gate he'd just opened. I'm sure it was confusing to see us coming out at 6 am. We camped there but not on purpose. LOL.

Say what you will about Burger King, but that breakfast sandwich we had in Castle Rock tasted so &^% good.