As the weekend came up, the forecast grew colder and colder and colder, warning of a daytime high of 23°F (-5°C) and a nighttime low of 11°F (-12°C). Brr! JK, Carlos and I were scheduled to go backpacking with Tisha, Steve and Tom, but we chickened out at the last minute and decided to dayhike with the group and then car camp instead – that way we could bring as many sleeping pads and blankets as we could possibly stuff in the car, plus have a campfire.
Our destination was Black Peak, sharing part of the trail with the Maple Pass hike I had done earlier in the week. Since we were just dayhiking, we planned to join the backpacking crew to the lake below Black Peak and turn around while they scrambled up (but we all brought our climbing helmets just in case).
The first part of the trail was easy, especially for those of us carrying day packs instead of heavy winter overnight packs. Moahaha. The exhaustingly long talus field over to the first lake was covered in 4-5 inches of snow, which made it even more interesting for the poor bastards carrying heavy loads.
We sat down to rest and have a snack by the beautiful, avocado-colored Lewis Lake. I’ve been wanting to go there all season, so I was all giddy and happy to finally have made it.
The larch porn up there was incredibly arousing, and there was much oohing and aahing and unsightly drooling as we made our way up to Wing Lake.
When we reached Wing Lake, we realized that JK and Carlos would have a shot at reaching the summit of Black Peak (and making it back in time to cross the Talus Field of Doooom before dark) as long as they moved fast.
I volunteered to stay behind at the lake since a) I would slow them down too much to summit, b) I would most likely be terrified by the exposed scramble up there and c) I prefer lakes anyway, especially when they’re turquoise and surrounded by larches. Nom nom nom.
While I bundled up in all my layers and some borrowed camping accessories from Tom and Tisha, the rest of the gang headed up towards the summit. Apparently it was pretty sketchy, especially getting up the summit block and crossing a sphincter-tightening, snow-covered, narrow, hellish piece of rock over to the true summit. Let’s just say I’m glad I didn’t go, and I’m also glad JK prefers roped class 5 climbing to scrambling. Ugh.
Here’s a panorama of Carlos on the summit (I just realized the stitching process severed his hand – sorry Carlos!):
Four cold hours later, JK and Carlos finally made it back to the lake, happy to find me only partially turned into a popsicle. We hurried down from the lake and found ourselves crossing the talus field at dusk, just as the wind was picking up and blasting us from the valley. Brrr. I had the joy of finding a sucker hole in the snow and banging my shins (there is no body part more badly designed than the shin) and bending my hiking poles as I slipped between the rocks. Fun!
It was completely dark by the time we reached the main trail, so we switched on our head lamps – never go hiking without a head lamp, seriously – and covered the last couple of miles in no time. I love hiking in the dark (as long as the trail is good); I get into a sort of trance where all that exists is me, my feet, and stars as far as the eye can see.
35 minutes later we were back at the car, scurrying inside to turn on the heat, and then we drove east to try to find a campground where we could spend the night and warm our frosty behinds.
Tom wrote a very amusing trip report on nwhikers.net if you’re in the mood for lots and lots of photos (there are some great ones of the scramble!) and a chuckle or five.