Rise and shine, it’s another beautiful day to step onto trail. Although I have yet to have a campfire because there are fire bans, I completely smell like smoke at this point. The smoke overnight was quite bad. I can’t even imagine what it is like closer to the fire. I must be miles and miles away from the source of the fire right now.
I spent my morning popping blisters. It wasn’t as “icky” as I thought it was going to be. I took my tiny sharp scissors and made a tiny sharp cut into the bottom of my foot where I felt absolutely nothing as the skin surrounding the blister had already detached itself from any nerve type feeling. Out leaked some oozy clear liquid and that was all. Nothing too exciting, and a lot less drama than what I was anticipating.
Today I knew I was heading to Summit Lake for a pit stop along the way. I needed to rinse out my clothing and wash down my body. It has been a few days since I’ve done any type of bathing and it was time. Breakfast was eaten (thank you oatmeal), and camp was packed, and off I went to a lake.
Very shortly on the trail I heard a raucous in a tree of screeching scratching animal fights. From where I was it took me a moment to locate the source, but eventually I spotted a tree about 20 meters away and up about 5 meters from the ground was a whirling dervish of dark brown fur. My attempts at making small noises to catch their attention and break up their auto destruction was not working, so I bellowed out a big loud “HEY!” and immediately they stopped. What it also did was catch one of them off guard who then decided to fall the 5 meters to the ground. Great, I’ve just killed my first wildlife. I’ve become a hunter and I don’t even like hunting. Fortunately for me however, that furry little creature had some bounce, and no sooner did it hit the ground, but it took off running across my path with the 2nd one directly behind it. To this day I have no idea what they were. I initially thought they were little brown foxes, then why would a fox be in a tree? So when I got home I googled “Brown Furry Creature in Cascade Mountain Range” and a Fisher came up to the top. Hmmmm… quite possibly.
Not too much further and I was on the trail that curved around a big lake. Summit Lake. I found the side trail which lead to the camp noted on the PCT maps. It took me right to the water’s edge which at this time in the morning was still and quiet and quite reflective. There was no one around, so I took my water filter and my body to the water, stripped down and began washing my clothes. After my clothes had a bath, I was next, and it seemed that the ducks that were joyfully playing in the morning sunshine were also having quite a bath as well. Then, don’t ya know, I heard the rev of an engine in the distance that grew louder by the moment. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from or whether or not it was a motorboat, a truck or one of NASA’s rockets taking off. This thing was big and loud. Then through the trees on the shoreline to my left (just past the ducks), I see the biggest of trucks you can imagine. So, obviously there is either a road there, or they are like the honey badger not giving a f*ck and plowing their way through along a walking trail.
Of course, this big red-necked truck stops just near where I am, and of course two camouflaged folk come strolling towards the shore looking at the water. They don’t see me at first, but there I was on the water’s edge with my water filter in hand pumping out the water I would need for the day. Finally the girl in camo looked over and saw me, and immediately notified her other half, and as he looked over I waved hello. The conversation went like this:
Me: “Good Morning! I’m not sure if you’re looking for ducks, but there were two very playful ducks here just moments ago, but someone just drove by in a really loud and big truck and scared all the ducks away.”
This, apparently, was a sure queue for the hunters to retreat back to their “over-sized compensating for something they must feel they are lacking” truck and they drove away. Ducks: 1, Hunters: 0
All of my dry-fit clothing dried rather quickly, so I was dressed and packed and back on the trail in a short amount of time. (Oh, by the way, the camp spot at Summit Lake was sensational – if I hadn’t arrived there at 8:45 in the morning, I would have camped there for sure).
The next part of my morning lead me into the Diamond Peak Wilderness. It was windy and cold here with snow on the sides of the expansive mountain range. I’m not sure what happened in this part of the trail, but at one point, all of the trees were knocked down, and it seems that they were all knocked down from the mountain heading East. Regardless, there was an abundance of smaller new growth trees and half-way through the wild of Diamond Peak there was a beautiful little stream.
Once on the other side of Diamond Peak, I began to traverse slowly downward and kept coming upon these amazing little lakelets with lots of wildlife in and around them. We really do have some amazing wilderness here.
At just about 5:00, I decided that it was time for a snack and to rest my feet. I dropped my pack and started chewing on some trail mix and dried fruit and as I was sitting there I looked down and saw what was an obvious “arrow” made by another human out of twigs on the ground. The arrow was pointing down a side trail that I would have missed if I had not stopped to take a break. That intuitive nudge that says “go investigate” was gnawing at my gut and though I felt a little uneasy about leaving the comforts of the PCT for unknown territory, I put on my pack and headed down the path. I am grateful I did.
I passed through a small clump of trees and emerged onto the edge of a lakelet that sat about 15 feet below. It was perfect, secluded, quiet, serene and exactly the spot I was hoping I could camp in. Off came my pack, up went my camp and I spent the rest of the evening (though really that was only a couple of hours which included setting camp and eating) sitting by the waterside just breathing.
As it goes when you’re on trail, you’re sleeping by the time it’s dark and up by the time it gets light, so I was off to dreamland relatively early. In the morning, I got up, made my camp coffee and oatmeal then sat again down by the water’s edge. There was commotion on the other side of the lakelet and at first I thought it was two ducks, but quickly found out that it was two otters. OTTERS! They were so adorable.
At first the otters either didn’t know I was there, or didn’t want to investigate. But eventually their curiosity won out and they started chatting with each other and kept looking my way. They would get into the water from an island, swim a little closer looking at me, chatter then swim away. Eventually, knowing that I’m an animal lover and not a killer, they began a direct swimming path towards me. When they got about 10 feet away, I calmly said, “That’s far enough, we do not need to interact any closer than this”, which they apparently thought quite rude because one otter squawked at the other and they began to swim away.
Miles: 1890-1908, 18 mile day – 8am-5:45 pm