I am sitting under my SIl Shelter just behind a small hill just east of Mirror Lake. The sun has set and twilight is almost gone. There is little wind and the skies are fairly clear. It will be a good night for stargazing if either Peter and I are still awake when full darkness comes. It will also be chiller because it is clear (about 35*F now). I can see some large not-terribly threatening clouds looming over Hailey Pass but I think they'll just go away. It has been a very fine day.
Peter picked me up yesterday and we went into Jackson to see if anyone else was around yet. We were the first to arrive in Jackson. We got a room at the El Rancho As we settled in and did errands we managed to wipe out a couple hours. When we finished with all that Ryan was just pulling in and unloading his car. We did not even bother to unpack our groceries but began chatting with Ryan. He had spent the night on Hurricane Pass with some other people. Spent the night in a fierce tarp-ripping tent pole snapping storm. A lady up there with him (her own group; he was solo) got beamed by a fast moving rock. He said it was the worst storm he had been in. A wretched night. I bet he would not trade it for the world.
We learned that Alan wouldn't arrive until about 20:00 and Glen would not get in until at least 22:00. We had lots of time to kill. Time for naps and doing more prep work. Peter and I managed both.
When Alan arrived it was time for Peter's slideshow. He had spent nearly 3.5 months hiking the entire Brooks Range in Alaska. He does trips like that..The slides were wonderful, Peter's stories were great, he has set fires under all of us to go up there and hike. I'm sure Ryan and Allan will go. I'd go with them but there is no way I could keep up. I'll have to find someone else to go with. I wouldn't want to go alone. While I don't agree with Peter that I'd just die I do know it would not be prudent to go alone. But, what a magnificent place.
Glen arrived not long after the slideshow ended. He'll have to settle for stories some other time. Peter and I were still tired since neither of us had much sleep and called it a night. I understand Ryan and Alan ordered pizza (I hope they shared with Glen).
Today after breakfast at Jedediah's we set about figuring out where everyone was going to go. There were concerns about snow. They had been getting snow and that would affect route choices if it was still present. Peter and I figured out a route that would start and end at Big Sandy. Ryan's intrepid group modified their initial plans to account for the possibly bad conditions and made their own route that will, as it happens, now also end at Big Sandy. After figuring that out Peter and I took off. He hates spending time in town and I did not object so we set out for Big Sandy just before noon. We won't see the other guys until the end of the trip and Peter might not see them at all since he'll take off immediately after dropping me off in Jackson.
The drive to Big Sandy is enjoyable enough. Mostly through wide empty spaces. It was a lovely clear afternoon and quite warm to boot. We stopped briefly to consult the map but otherwise made good time even as we drove along the last 15 to 20 miles past Buckskin Pass past the ancient wagon tracks up into the mountains. We drove along pretty good dirty graded road through pleasing forests of aspen (or is it paper birch - it's not yet turned brilliant aspen yellow) and either pine or firs. Then we were at the Big Sandy campground parking lot getting our gear sorted out and ready to go. It was just a bit before 15:00 on a blustery afternoon with a temperature in the low to mid 50s.
We strolled northwest out of Big Sandy campground towards Meak Lake. The trail gradually ascended a forest ridge. Easy hiking. I can't believe how easy it was. Peter's natural pace is an easy one for me to keep up with. In fact, I may go a bit faster than he does (especially on ascents). I did not mind the pace. After all, we were at 9,100 feet and I am sure my system still needs to get used to that. Up we went through the quiet forest. We passed two horse riders and two backpackers carrying what looked like big packs and that was it for people. We strolled up and around and up past cut down trees that made me think of a logging zone. It's really just the trees they cut down to make the trails. Easy hiking. Lovely hiking.
We passed Meeks Lake inside of 30 minutes and kept going. Passed by a sign for Dads Lake and kept going. A "park" what I think of as a high alpine meadow appeared on the right and we could see Laturio Mountain. Lovely craggy mountain.
On we went. It was easy to hike and have a conversation. I could actually probably do virtually no talking and Peter would fill in all the empty space himself. But, if I asked him to shut up I am sure he would. We left the forest and strolled through the open space of Fish Creek Park.You could see rolling terrain flanked by vast mountains. Steady easy ambling and then we were at a lake.A pretty lake we thought was Dad's Lake. But, as we looked at the map and where the trail went we decided it was Mirror Lake. It was also about 17:25 and I felt this was a good place to stop. A fine easy dinner or Lipton noodles for me and something for Peter and more conversation as the sun began to set. My only complaint is that since I don't have a windscreen my stove is not very efficient. But, I have more than enough fuel. And Peter's Zip stove burns wood (and a lot of other stuff) so there is, for our needs, a virtually infinite supply of fuel.
This was a good day. I can't believe how easy the trail was. I hope it stays like this. The views are great. I watched a lovely sunset color the mountains to my east and it is only now that I am getting cold typing this. I'll crawl into bed and hope for a sound comfortable sleep. I hope I have enough water. I wish I could see the stars. I think I just saw a firefly. I do see the moon rising over the trees of our dinner spot. Pretty. Too bad it is only sliver.