Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Five Days Rocking With The Goats (Part 4)

I face the truth – there is no Goat.
Morning becomes gray.

After spending a quiet night hanging from the trees (in a hammock – not by my hind claws), I continued down toward Walupt Lake a bit farther down the trail.

Pacific Northwest sapling (horizontal phase).

This was a cool, gray day. Good for hiking but bad for photos. Which is fine. No one guarantees good photo weather. At least by this time of the year there were few mosquitoes.

Flora droopica (trailside).

I did grab a shot of a fallen douglas fir across the trail. If I wasn't so ugly and hadn't been so lazy I'd have handed the camera to a passing sasquatch and posed next to the recumbent lumber to illustrate scale. But you can probably guess at the dimensions. Even the flowers were droopy that day, but they work so hard at being happy-faced all summer that you have to expect some burnout.

Nannie Ridge Trail (boring section).

From Walupt Lake, the trail climbing Nannie Ridge passes through a lot of quiet landscape. Or boring landscape if you like that description better. There was some intermittent drizzle which added to the thrill. For me it always does.

Looking sort of east over a wide expanse of gray. (click/embiggen)

From the edge of a small open shoulder along the trail I caught a panorama looking generally east – clouds, drabness, haze. All in all not bad, except for several more exciting and suspensful episodes of drizzle.

Depressing southeasterly view.

From there or somewhere in the general vicinity I tried to capture the glory of nearby ridges, but the glory was not cooperating, or I just didn't understand it. Maybe that's it.

Depressing easterly view.

I tried again, looking in a slightly different direction. Not any better. Still depressing – I had to stop and hang myself from a nearby tree for a few minutes to perk myself up again before trying to go on.

Sad forest (dead phase).

Ahead – more kissed-by-death forest.

Looming rock (pre-suicide).

Along the side of the ridge there was a nice little cliff looming over the trail. It looked as though it might jump at any moment. I tried to talk it down but it wasn't listening so I moved on. Sometimes that's the best thing to do. We can't save all of them.

Mt Adams (no longer sure if life is worth it). (click/embiggen)

After looking over my shoulder to see if anything was back there, and had unpleasant ideas, I found that there was – Mt Adams, with its head in the clouds (it doesn't have an oven, not one big enough). It definitely had the blues. Poor guy. I might have heard a distant moan, but that could have been me..

Miscellaneous pointless landscape with haze. (click/embiggen)

And then, turning back the other way, there was the rest of it – half a dozen furry ridges trailing off into pointlessness in more exhaust-colored air. But who am I to judge?

Looking off toward something or other in the distance. (click/embiggen)

I guess I decided to split the difference between Adams and the receding, sagging ridges, and took another photo. Well, things were a little brighter there, with slightly more hopeful clouds. That's good, I guess. Whatever.

Sheep Lake and hopeful hiker (nearing letdown). (click/embiggen)

And all too soon there was Sheep Lake, and a couple of other backpackers. If I remember, this was a Monday, and at least the weekend crowd had gone by then. No one else was there that morning. Vacancy can be reassuring some days, when you want to suffer alone.

Explorer's gentian (Gentiana calycosa – closed for the day).

It's a nice little lake, but everyone in the world camps there. There is a cozy grove of trees on the north side of the lake. And a short distance back of that there was a pile of used toilet paper sitting on top of some other stuff that I decided not to investigate.

Saddle above Lake Corral, which is a sad wet spot. (click/embiggen)

I had my heart set on camping a bit beyond – up a creek I'd crossed the day before. Walupt Creek. After putting up my hammock I dumped my pack into it and headed up the creek on an informal trail to see what was there.

Pointy deer prints (indecisive phase).

This trail led to a grassy saddle forming a pass, which in turn led to a hidden lake below and to the southeast. Enticing. I got a look at it but didn't want to get too far from my pack, a mile back by this point, so I stopped it there.

Looking west (in case anyone cares).

But the pass would be a fun place to camp. There's room for around 400 tents, and no water, guaranteeing plenty of parking space, and no complaints about my snoring. If I slept in a tent.

Looking east (as if that matters).

There is so much room that a dedicated snorer wouldn't even have to worry about running out of air. Not for a minute. The place is chock full of it. And snoring keeps critters away – it sends them running straight the other way, screaming sometimes, so you could leave all your food out on the ground, on plates, with flatware and everything (even napkins) and nothing would touch it. True.

Finally – a place to get over the day. (click/embiggen)

And then it was back to camp, followed by a bath, followed by supper, followed (surprisingly) by no rain overnight. All quiet. No goats.

The lakes. (click/embiggen)

Explorer's gentian: This common late-blooming flower of wet mountain meadows is dark blue with yellow spots. The flower is held upright on the stem and has a bell shape. It opens when the sun is shining on it. (PDF)