Monday, October 14, 2013

Day 3 Devils Postpile, Almost

We woke up almost warm, no frozen water this morning, and the hopes for a mellow day. The other hikers we had met had at the hot springs had all done out and back trips from the Devils Postpile area and said we a had an easy downhill day ahead of us. Our original trip plans all had vague figure eights centering around Devils Postpile so how far we got today decided the rest of our trip. I had hopes of making it a few miles past the monument which would put Thousand Island Lake within our reach. I was hoping to hit the John Muir Trail and enjoy the area during the quiet hiking season. That would require 16 or so miles and I wasn't so sure the rest of the crew was up for it but with easy hiking it could definitely happen.

The day started like we expected, gentle walk down the canyon with one climb to pull us out and enjoy the views even more.

A quick break and it felt like we were at the top, false summits as usual but the reward when the view opened up was pretty fantastic. Miles of granite and canyons stretched out ahead of us.
Anna was slow to catch up and mentioned a few blisters (guys fix this nonsense when its still a hot spot, blisters are so not worth it). We were already slower than I had hoped but the views had me smiling and excited to keep going so on we went. 

Open granite and aspen surrounded us as we slowly approached Devil's Postpile. Anna was lagging farther behind but continually assured us she was okay to keep going when she caught up on our breaks. I was getting worried but brushed it aside as we entered an old burn (sometime during the 90's) that had us baking in the sun and climbing a whole lot more than we expected on a day that should have been mostly downhill. 


We hit our first intersection as we officially entered Devils Postpile National Monument after about 12 miles of hiking and waited for Anna to find us, well over 20 people passed us as we baked in the sun. Guess closed is more of a suggestion out here, no signs or rangers in sight.

Despite the handy you are here dot on this giant map we had some issues. Following the signs to Devils Postpile we found ourselves climbing, and then climbing some more. In the hot dusty afternoon we started to have doubts, magnified when we realized we were looking at the monument from across the canyon. Oops, well look now we barely touched the actual closed area and at least caught a glimpse of the area even if it was from afar.

And it turns out there actually were closed signs, except we only ran into them on our way out of the national monument. Hmm okay then, well we saw a ton of hikers but certainly no rangers. And back into the land of wilderness and onwards onto the John Muir Trail. Anna looked pretty darn tired but with no water we decided to push on to the closest creek, another mile or so.

Camp was a welcome relief for my little group. 16 miles may have been a bit much for them...

don't they look excited to be pumping water?
We then sat around enjoying camp, appreciating the wilderness and playing with my phone. Okay to be honest we didn't expect to have service but have been worried about weather so were pleasantly surprised when Google magically worked. Still snow coming Wednesday...

After seeing a fair bit of fresh bear scat we decided to be on the safe side and attempt to hang our food. What followed was an hour of ridiculous laughing and one darn creative food hang (that thing was crazy heavy!).

Tucked in against the cold and very unsure about tomorrow I started to drift off to sleep only to be jolted awake by howling. And welcome to the wild, a pack of coyotes was clearly nearby and all the howling was pretty darn unsettling. After way to much nervous chatter it was back to sleep, or at least the hope of some good sleep. 14 miles will put us at Thousand Island lake tomorrow night but I have some serious doubts about my fellow hikers ability and desire to trek that far. My feet are itching and I'm missing the miles I can put make solo but the laughter and craziness is helping mitigate my antsiness.

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