Monday, June 13, 2016

Tourist Backpacking

Day 62 - June 6
Mile: 813.8 to 820.6
up/down: 1250/1550 feet

New trip bird: American Dipper

We are in the heart of the most beautiful part of the Sierra. Today we ended the day at the incredible Palisades Lakes, immediately west of the Palisades Crest. Neither of us has been here before and it was high on my list of most wanted places to visit. We have plenty of food, the weather is perfect, so we are playing tourists for a couple of days. Big mile days can wait.  

We started out three miles short of Mather Pass and an early start got us climbing on firm and icy snow. Generally following the summer trail line by GPS kept us safe in the maze of frozen lakes, ponds and open streams that were our approach. Finally we were at the steep head wall and there was nothing to do but go up. Parts of the summer switchbacks were free of snow so we followed traversing numerous snow fields as we climbed. The final few hundred feet were straight up on a steep icy slope. We were at the top and the views were amazing. The Palisades Crest in all its glory was before us to the north. 

It was a warm day so we hustled on down to lower elevation while the snow held firm. It wasn't long and we were on the partiality snow covered trail along the lake edge. When we reached the outlet of the lower lake we knew we weren't taking another step. The view here is 360. We'll make up the miles tomorrow.

With the warm afternoons the snow is melting fast but there is lots left to melt. It makes for gushing water everywhere and constant wet feet. Once you accept the fact that you will be hiking with wet shoes, progress is much simpler - just splash along and keep moving. The nice thing about hiking with trail runners is the drain quickly and dry pretty fast too when the trail isn't soggy. 

We had an American Dipper at the outlet stream near camp for a new trip bird. A family of marmots, I counted five and they are as tame as can be, lives nearby and appears to be well versed in hiker food. We are guarding our carefully. In another month this spot will be crawling with summer backpackers. Tonight we have the entire canyon to ourselves. 


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