Saturday, July 12, 2014

Day 33: Rabbit Ears Pass to Ridge Above Luna Lake

The soft morning sunlight brightened the lush green meadow surrounding Dumont Lake near Rabbit Ears Pass where we rejoined the trail. Torrential rains throughout yesterday afternoon and evening left both the trail and the surrounding vegetation completely soaked.  Brushing against the wet grass and plants soon saturated our shoes and pant legs. Clumps of thick, chunky mud built up like platforms underneath our shoes. 

A chorus of frogs echoed through the damp forest. Electric blue damselflies zipped across the trail. Occasionally we still crunched across snowfields, but much of the trail was muddy swampland.  

Clambering over a pile of wet logs blocking the trail, my foot slipped. I fell heavily onto my back, landing like a helpless tortoise flipped onto its shell.  

A few minutes later, Sierra glanced at my head while we were hiking down the trail. "Where are your sunglasses?" She asked. I ran back down the trail and found my sunglasses lying in the grass where I had fallen off the slippery log. 

Fluffy, white clouds piled high, like mounds of cotton candy at the fair. As the day wore on the clouds became gray and dingy. Thunder rumbled in the distance. The rain started gently, a welcome mist on a hot day.

A large female elk grazed peacefully in the meadow, but bounded into the forest when we approached. Several deer also crossed our paths. 

We crossed into the Mount Zirkel Wilderness and marveled at all the familiar names in the register. Stride, Smiles, Soulshine, Shutterbug 2, Mouse, and Flower all passed through here yesterday. Several other familiar names of CDT hikers we have not yet met were signed in the day before. 

Larger and more frequent snowfields covered the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. The swampy meadows in between snowfields are blanketed with golden Glacier Lilies. Water is everywhere: pouring down the trail and hillsides, pooling beneath snowfields and in the meadows. 

I stepped to the edge of our ridge to admire the rocky crags on the side of the mountain. A bald eagle swooped, then circled, before soaring over to a neighboring ridge, where a second bald eagle briefly joined it in flight. 

We found a sheltered camp in a small grove of trees just below the ridge. Below us lies Luna Lake, a beautiful alpine gem nestled in a rocky basin. The wind is picking up and the clouds are gathering, so we may have an interesting night. 

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