Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Just Another Drop in the Bucket.... List

#24 Do an overnight backpacking trip

O Lord, My God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the world Thy hands have made

I'm married to a former boy scout leader. When I first met Bruce he was the scout master for a troop of boys who were crazy about outdoor adventures. They did some sort of outdoor/camping/hiking venture each month. After we were married and Bruce retired from scouting, he and I began building our camping experiences together: car camping. You know, drive to the campsite, unload your gear, pitch your tent and cook over the camp stove. Take a day hike or laze around by the river. Eventually we upgraded to the little trailer we now have and camping took on a new level of adventure as we hit the road. All good. All fun.

Just about every year, Bruce takes off with a buddy or two and they backpack into some place you can only get to on foot and spend a few days exploring and experiencing nature in a way not possible by car. And I always send him off with a kiss and a wave and enjoy a couple of days of my own version of 'living on the edge" (i.e. sleeping in, not cooking, pampering myself, being lazy) I have no problem with his Wild at Heart escapes; indeed I heartily approve!

privacy in the privy?
 not much!
Still... we have often talked about doing an overnight backpacking trip of our own. And talk was all we did because there were a few issues that always cropped up in our discussions that made me waver on committing to the action.
Things like...
carrying a back pack with my bad neck, shoulders, and back...
walking a long distance...
climbing up & down with my bad feet & knees...
sleeping on the hard ground with my princess & the pea condition and let's not forget the biggie...
where does one p--p in the wilderness???
 (come on, you gotta think about stuff like that! and be prepared.) 

It occurred to me recently that if I did not do this thing I so really wanted to do NOW, I would likely NEVER do it because all those physical challenges were only going to get bigger, not smaller. So, with tenacity and positive thinking I said "This is the year!"

After some discussion of options we finally settled on the Chain Lakes Trail at Mt. Baker. We reasoned the trail wasn't so arduous that I would be defeated, the distance to the first lake was more than achievable, and the adventure I was longing for would be easily obtained by this outing. 

We chose 4th of July weekend for our trip and hoped for good weather. Well, good weather has been more than on our side here of late. In fact, we've had record breaking temperatures for most of June and into July. As the day of our trip neared and the temperatures continued to soar we began to second guess our choice. Should we postpone in favor of cooler weather? Well, since summer is only a few weeks long and there are plenty of other commitments already plugged into our calendars, we decided to stick to the original plan and make the best of it. 

So, Saturday afternoon we packed all our gear-- the majority of it going into Bruce's backpack, leaving me with a fairly light load. (Still, 20# on your back that you are not used to carrying, is something to adjust to) We set out for the mountain around 4 pm, relying on the cool of the evening to carry us into the woods. Even so it was in the 80's as we set forth on the Chain Lakes Trail. But we had a nice breeze rising over the mountains and not only did that serve to keep us feeling refreshed but it deterred the bugs and flies as well.

when through the woods and forest glades I wander and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees...

It's about a 2 mile trek from Artist Point, our starting point, to the first lake, Mazama, where we'd decided we'd camp. (You can do the whole Chain, which is about 7 miles, passing 5 lakes in all, and then there's an additional trek back up the highway if your car is in the parking lot at Artist Point. For our adventure we chose to just hike in to Mazama, spend the night and hike back out the way we came.) With only a couple of stops for pictures and water consumption, we made it to Lake Mazama in about 90 minutes. Not too bad considering. 

when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur and hear the brook and feel the gently breeze...

The trail is fairly easy going. Well marked, smooth in most places, only a few areas of rocky terrain. Uphill for the first leg, then a gradual descent as you near Mazama. I was surprised at how well I did, considering my tennis shoes were not the best for hiking. The backpack was a good fit (thank you to our friend T-man. who lent us some great gear) so I was pleased with how well that went also. Bruce couldn't see it since he was trailing behind me but I had a mile-wide grin on my face most of the time, just feeling so much pleasure at actually doing what I'd long talked about doing. Such is the reward for knocking off a bucket list item! 

then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee, How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

We met several hikers as we traversed and wondered if we'd find a campsite once we reached the lake. If we didn't find a spot we'd have to either push on another mile or more to the next lake with campsites, or improvise. Mazama has 4 designated campsites and we quickly discovered they were all occupied. We were bummed but not defeated. We circled the lake and decided to appropriate a nice lush level area on the opposite side of the lake, which just happened to be adjacent to a pleasant little waterfall and gurgling creek that fed into Mazama. 
Can you say perfect?

Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing, power and majesty praise to the King...

After our supper we hung the bear bag and explored a little. Then, with night falling and bugs rising, we dived into the tent for protection and rest. I wondered if we'd be able to spot the "Star of Bethlehem" that we'd been enjoying from our back deck at home but it was just a little lower than the tree line for us to see. However, around 1 am we were awakened by the brightness of the moon over the lake. We climbed out of our tent to watch in awe as it glistened on the rippling lake and then, breathlessly, we gazed at a million stars that were dotting the night sky.

Mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of your name...

Sleeping in Sunday morning wasn't really an option as 1) the princess was definitely feeling the pea and 2) the temperature was quickly rising making the tent uncomfortable. We retrieved the bear bag and rooted around for our breakfast. We climbed up above the waterfall and found a luscious grassy paradise in which to consume our granola. 

I sing for joy at the work of your hands, forever I'll love you, for ever I'll stand

Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.

We did a little hike later to the second lake, Iceberg, so named because in a usual year of snow, there are really icebergs sticking up out of the lake. This year has been usually dry and with an early summer, the lake, while icily cold, had no icebergs. 

Lord of all creation, of water, earth and sky, the heavens are your tabernacle, glory to the Lord on high

And speaking of icy cold, what about Lake Mazama? It was surprisingly tolerable in temperature, made more so by the fact that by noon it was quite hot out. With our campsite broken down and packed up, we decided a dip in the lake before departure was required. 

God of Wonders, beyond our galaxy ~ you are holy!

from the highest of heights to the depths of the sea...

The hike back out was much more challenging than coming in. I admit, I loaded up on Ibuprofen before we left the parking lot on Saturday and took some more when we reached camp. I took some more before we began the return trek. But, add in a night of somewhat restless sleep, a sun that was beating down hotter than ever, and that slow descent to the lake that seemed now ridiculously steep as we climbed back out, and you'll have a picture of the challenges I was facing.

But I refused to be defeated! I am Tenacious Woman! This is my Super Power!! 

Creation's revealing Your majesty

Not to mention that every time I stopped I was attacked by biting flies!! I had no choice but to just press on! 

from the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring, every creature unique in the song that it sings...

We stopped for a nice break once we reached the intersection on the trail for Chain Lakes and Ptarmigan Ridge. From there we could actually see the parking lot and that spurred us on for the final leg. With not much of a breeze, a 3-O-Clock sun beating down on us, and the backpack seeming twice as heavy as the day before (I don't know-- do dirty clothes weigh more?) the last mile felt monotonous. 

awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim...
Yes... I was grateful to reach the end of the trail when we did. My shoulders were complaining, my feet were hurting and I had finished all my water about 20 minutes before we got to the car and was feeling quite parched. The first thing I did when we popped the trunk was grab 2 bottles of water from there. One went directly over my head and other went down my throat. 

You are amazing God!

Bruce was proud of me for doing what I set out to do, thrilled that we were finally able to experience this together. I was proud of my accomplishment as well. (And not ashamed to admit that there was more Ibuprofen consumed along with the water.)

the pulse of life within my wrist, a fallen snow, a rising mist, there is no higher praise than this

We stopped in Glacier for ice cream as a reward and celebration of our adventure. As we licked the fast melting treat off our fingers and hands, we looked at each other and grinned. How beautiful are the feet on the mountain!

oh my soul wells up, yes my soul wells up with Hallelujahs

* song excerpts from How Great Thou Art, Shout to the Lord, God of Wonders, Indescribable, and Hallelujahs,

1 comment:

  1. Wow! These pictures are stunning! Glad you took the plunge and ventured out on your trip! :)


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