The trail climbed over 10,000 feet before descending to a beautiful grassy meadow. The North Fork of Lost Creek carved a windy path through the deep grass. Thick dams of sticks and mud blocked the flow of the creek to form several beaver ponds, each with its own mossy beaver lodge built of piled sticks and mud.
Bursts of color dotted the canyon: soft burgundy cones on the fir trees, pale purple iris blooms, deep purple shooting stars, white furry tufts of bear grass, and fields of bright yellow dandelions. Dropping into the next canyon, the rustle of aspen leaves startled me like the hissing of a rattlesnake. At other times the wind shaking the aspens sounded like the gurgle of a nearby stream, giving a false promise of water ahead.
The clouds flirted with us all afternoon. Thunder rumbled overhead. Rain fell in a mist so gentle it felt like walking through a dense fog. Lightning danced on the ridge ahead.
Walking into a thunderstorm isn't generally a good idea, but we had several good reasons to continue forward: (1) we were on an exposed ridge, (2) the trail dropped into the trees, and (3) there was no camping in sight. But a half mile before we reached camp near the Rock Creek Trailhead, the sky opened up and began to pour. The thunder and lightning became louder, more insistent, and much closer together.
The rain continued as we set up camp. We threw all our gear inside and huddled under a tree to cook dinner. The rain finally stopped at bedtime.