Thursday, July 23, 2009

eleven years

Upper Reed Lake

For our eleventh wedding anniversary Jon and I wanted to get out of town for a short backpacking trip. Short, since last year carrying a full pack was pretty painful for me. In a way, it would help us prepare for a longer trip later this summer. We looked through the hiking book and easily decided that going to Reed Lakes in the Hatcher Pass area was an obvious choice.

Obvious because it's about five miles to the upper lake. It's also where Jon proposed to me 12 years ago (to which I replied "Yes, do you want to do that next week?"). Realizing we hadn't been back since 1997 helped to solidify our plan. Two nights of camping next to a glacial-fed alpine lake. A full day for exploring the valley and low ridges overlooking the valley. Never ones to start things too early in the day, we were on the trail by about 4:00pm (or so).

Sprinkles fell as we began our hike and met all the day-hikers as they made their way out of the valley and back to their cars. Not many people would be hiking in on a Sunday, especially when the upper valley was starting to get clouded over. The rain made crossing the boulder fields a little more tenuous, so I took my time, using my arms to lower myself onto rocks with better footing or to climb over larger boulders, some the size of small cars. The rough granite made my hands tender after all the pushing against the boulders. The creek flowed next to or underneath us, gurgling and clunking as it poured down the valley.
Jon in a boulder field near the upper lake.
(Not the one we crossed to get there.)

Above the lower lake.

With the sprinkles, we didn't take many breaks on our way past the lower lake, but did pause to wonder at the turquoise color of the water, a color that seemed more rich with the cloudy day than it might be in the sun. Continuing past the waterfall, we arrived at the upper lake and found a campsite hidden from the trail but still with a view of the lake. Just as we finished setting up the tent and fly, the clouds opened to pour rain on the valley. We curled up in our down bags, falling asleep to the rhythm of the rain drops on the fly.

We woke at 10:30 to a silent evening. Jon made dinner at the camp stove and I poured wine from a Nalgene so we could toast our anniversary.

The next day we shared coffee, oatmeal and a lake view, then spent the afternoon exploring the valley and its hidden tarns, watching other hikers below us on the trail and looking out at the Knik River far beyond us.
split boulder

A little company for breakfast.

Tuesday morning we woke to sunny skies and a warm tent, a relief since packing the tent in the rain can be terribly frustrating, plus it weighs so much more wet than it does dry. We had just enough fuel for coffee and more oatmeal in the morning, enjoyed while watching this marmot foraging for its breakfast. We took our time on the hike back down the valley, though the skies were already beginning to cloud. A snack at the lower lake. The dry conditions made it much easier to pass through the boulder field with the full (though somewhat lighter) pack. This time I wore gloves so I wouldn't tear up my hands on the boulders.

We ran into a few day hikers on our way out, but by the time we were off the trail and enjoying a beer at the trailhead (which Jon had stashed in the creek two days earlier) the valley was filling with clouds as it was the day we started.
Jon, master of the cold beer, delivers.

After this relatively short trip, I'm much closer to being prepared for a longer backpack trip this summer. Will we be able to hike all of Kesugi this year? That's my hope. It all depends on Jon's schedule.


Karen Travels said...

I lived a year in Alaska and didn't discover your blog until now - and I am back east! Bummer, but your blog makes me miss Alaska!

bikegirl said...

So many blogs, so little time! Looks like you've had an adventurous summer. Maybe you'll come to Alaska again... it's a tough bug to shake.