Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Day 144: Park Lakes Basin to Waptus River

The scent of smoke wafted into the tent. Unzipping the tent flip, I poked my head outside. A smoky gaze hung in the air. Definitely not a campfire.

The sun had already reached our camp by the time we started hiking. Nevertheless, the morning air was cold and the frozen trail crunched beneath our feet. A thin sheet of ice blanketed the water at the edge of a nearby pond.

The morning sun bathed the jagged peaks above us with a soft light, making them look like turrets on a golden castle. The mountains continued in an unbroken line off in the distance, hazy and blue in the smoke.

The trail plummeted into a forested valley with a damp, mossy undergrowth of ferns, berry vines, and other green plants. Very little light penetrated the dense foliage and the ground remained cool and damp. Mushrooms forced their way out of the hard packed earth.

We started climbing again in the afternoon, eventually climbing past treeline into a grassy cirque dotted with small tarns (5,520 ft). Approaching a stream, several small tan objects leapt from the trail in front of us. More frogs swam in a nearby pool or sunned themselves on rocks.

Leaving the cirque, we slowly switchbacked down into the rocky, forested bed of the Waptus River (3,020 ft). By the time we reached the wooden bridge that spanned the river, the sun had already slipped behind the mountains, leaving us in darkness.

Finding a large, flat ledge above the river, we decided to camp. "Is that Mama Bear and Monkey?" a voice called in the darkness. Matt, Jennifer, and Rachel were camped nearby and invited us to join them by their fire. We ate dinner and relaxed by the campfire, then headed back to our own camp to bed.

No comments:

Post a Comment