The Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2005 show is over. The tired, but well pleased staff from BackpackingLight are dispersing across the country. Carol and i are currently at Everman Lake in the High Uintas of Utah. It's just after 20:30 (local daylight saving time) and although we may not have the place to ourselves I do not hear anyone else.
I got up just shy of 9:00am - 7 hours of sleep! After sorting everything out and making sure we just took what we needed for backpacking we said goodbye to Mike and Ryan and began our little post-show decompress, but still test gear, trip.
We reached the trailhead just after 3:00pm. I dozed for some of the drive. But when I was awake and we were passing through mountains I enjoyed the scenery. The afternoon was becoming steadily more cloudy and we set off on the Highline Trail the sun was intermittent at best. No real wind and a temp in the low 70s. Very nice.
The trail is wide, made of light colored almost sandy soils. Natural land mines occur in moderate frequency since human feet aren't the only ones allowed : horseback riding is permitted. The going was easy. We were easily exceeding 2mph even when you factor in break time. The pine (?) forest was quiet but for occasional woodpecker activity. Now and then we would pass a gap in the forest, a small meadow, that would give us a glimpse of the high peaks we were hiking among. A lake could be seen now and then though the few we saw lacked the mystique of some high alpine lakes I have seen. Perhaps there just was not enough color and light to really bring that out.
After about 2.5 hours on the trail we reached Naturalist Basin. This meadow is the lead-in to many fine lakes. We knew other people were staying at lakes like Blue and Jordan, but we felt confident no one would be at EvernqbEverman which is about half a mile off trail. We were right (some people came to fish for a bit, but that was it).
I was so sleepy last night that I couldn't write. It's too bad my sleep felt so poor. Sure I slept, but I was not comfortable. Maybe it was my shorter and less thick than recently sleeping pad; or the lousy pillow a food bag makes; or, the line of water that got in and moistened by sleeping bag. It definitely wasn't the temperature which probably did not below the low-mid 40s. But I did sleep and so did Carol (though also not well). I did not really start moving until 09:30 on thus overcast, intermittently sprinkling cool morning. But around 11:00am we broke camp and headed for Jordan Lake. Very pretty. We passed 2 horseback riders going the other wqyway and found a fisherman casting for brook trout (he does not plan to eat them since he can't cook them on coals - no fires in Naturalist Basin). The sun was peeking out more and more though we were still treated to a sun shower or two as we left Jordan Lake.
We needed to get near the trailhead so we could begin the drive back quickly and have ample time for Carol to catch her 2:00pm flight. When the sun was out the vistas were certainly better. For example Scudder lake, seen from the trail, was a great blue hue. The lake actually looked a bit less inviting when we strode to its shores to get water.
We found a campsite, probably well within a mile of the trailhead and nicely off the trail about 4:45pm. It's a nice sun dappled site with a suitable flat spot for my Virga Tartptent and trees the right size and distance apart for Carol's Hennessey Adventurer Racer Hammock. It has been a very nice day to be out. Now we can only hope for a nice night and that is in doubt as it continues to rain, as it has steadily done for 10 minutes, and the temperatures drops. In fact, I am now hearing thunder. this will be a rough, but useful first night test of Carol's hammock.
Temperatures got below 40, at 7:00am the ground temp was 44 but it felt colder with the large amount of moisture in the air. Still once we began moving we warmed up quick enough. We had to hustle a bit because Carol had an early afternoon flight to catch. We packed up quickly enough and found our way back to the trail. It was overcast and cool-ish. As we neared the trailhead we began passing a large group of people coming into the area. I imagine we got odd glances as they treid to decide if our packs were just too small to possibly be any good to us; their packs were considerably beefier. But hey, that's life on the ultralight (let alone super ultralight) edge I suppose. We returned to the car and were on the road a bit before 9:00. It had been a nice couple of easygoing days out in the mountains. I think we both enjoyed it. We certainly enjoyed the chance to unwind after the hectic action of the Outdoor Retailer show. My only real serious complaint: I lost my Zeiss monocular at a rest stop somewhere on the way back to Salt Lake City. By the time I realized it their was no way we could go back and hunt it down. It had probably long since been picked up by someone anyway. I hope they like its fine optics. I know I did.
I don't know if my so-so sleep can be blamed on the torso length foam sleeping pad, but it must have had some effect. I certainly noticed cold ground spots which I had to deal with. I think I may have missed a decent pillow more. But even if I had brought my Cascade Designs pillow case I lacked the proper stuffing: a food bag does not cut it.
The zippers on my Ex Officio Convertible pants have failed. I consider this a major failure since the pant have only got 14 hiking days on them.