Andrew and I spent this past weekend backpacking 17 miles in the Castle Peak Wilderness along the Pacific Crest Trail to Paradise Lake. The hike was beautiful, with views stretching out over the Sierra like this:
After a little over three miles we found ourselves on a trail much like ……….. this:
Snow. Lots of snow. Andrew may be smiling in that photo, but that was right before we came to the realization that we were super off trail. For about half of our hike, we were on snow, of unknown depths, only becoming known when every once in a while you’d tread over a soft part and THOOMP you (aka me, because it seemed I continuously chose the worst footing possible) were thigh deep in a snow drift. My goodness was I thankful for Andrew’s navigational skills and for the GPS on Andrew’s tablet, which helped us find our way to stick to the PCT, which was often lying far beneath the snow drifts. Hiking through snow like that gave me an appreciation for hikers who do this on their distance hikes – it was tough and holy cow my muscles are sore from getting across the snow!
We were vastly rewarded when we reached our destination:
We had the place to ourselves the entire time and WOW was it gorgeous. A serene mountain lake, studded with granite boulders and surrounded by the rising mountains and cliffs. We quickly made camp, and had happy hour with some wine we brought along (yes, absolutely necessary staple to fit in the pack and well worth the weight!) It was a clear starry night and we even got to have a camp fire since it is not yet into the fire restriction time.
Hiking back out the next day was a bit easier than hiking in, if only that we could follow our footsteps through the snow from the previous day to find our way back to the trailhead. We couldn’t help but realize we were the blind leading the blind, with the blind being ourselves on the previous day 🙂
We made it out mid-afternoon on Monday, feeling tired but accomplished. It was sad to say goodbye to the mountains, but we’re looking forward to our next backpacking trip and the fact that it will most likely be in SWITZERLAND!