Last best effort
That night was terrifying. I was kind of uneasy that we pitched a tent way off the trail. But we needed to camp out. Riding out to the car at the trailhead was not going to happen. My partner suggested we go up this one trail and we discovered this cute little meadow adjoining a scree slope. It was an obvious animal run-way. Moose poop everywhere and the largest pile of grizzly scat I have ever seen two feet from the tent door.
I went to sleep OK because it started to rain and the sounds on the tent walls lulled me into dreamland. Then it stopped raining. Which meant we could hear things. Things like large animals moving about the meadow. So in all I only slept when it was raining. And did I mention that we didn’t have any bear spray.
I was under the impression that there were no grizzlies in the Crazies. A friend did some research and told me that about ten years ago. And the signs, maybe the sounds, that we experienced may have been just a large black bear. But at 2 in the morning you prepare for the worst. I was ready for a grizzly to come in for breakfast of cyclist and then finish off with a desert of pine bark seeds. Which were prevalent in the scat.
But we did make it through to the next day. Thankfully! Right? At breakfast we felt so relieved we came up with a scheme to hike to Smeller Lake.
We expected a climb because going to Rock Lake was hell and it was shy of 9,000 feet. Smeller Lake was right at or above 9,000 feet. So an uphill struggle was anticipated. The best thing, and I hate to admit it, is that we ditched the bikes.
Yep! Completely went on a hiking effort. Yea, I know. Not part of a bike packing adventure. But up here bikes seemed to be hindersome at best.
We had a fabulous climb that took us to wide open meadows with skyscraper peaks all around.
And at the end of the meadows were waterfalls. Once we spotted some mountain goats and nestled into some high grass to watch. And we saw some impressive white bark pine ecosystem activity. Nutcrackers were everywhere and bear sign abundant.
Smeller lake was impressive. It had a different feel then Rock Lake, which we left the day before. On the South side was this massive snow field. It was mostly covered in scree but dripping sounds and constant falling rock gave us warning not to approach.
To the North was Iddings Peak and the ridge separating us from Crazy lake. Just a beautiful sight.
To the East was deposits of scree, differing in color. And the ridge textured like an alien space ship. At least what I saw in the latest blockbuster.
This place had zen while the day before we had ruin and emptiness. It became clear that if it were not for my partner suggesting this side trip we would be home wondering what to do. I had wanted to cut the trip off early and just go home. But instead she talked me into something off “the plan”.
There is always a place to explore. There is always another perspective. Always another view. Another season. This is why I leave the house. I looked at the screen on my camera and could see new images at every focal length.
“Well we are out of food, out of time, and really need to get back to our bikes pretty soon”, she said.
I nodded and with that turned to head back down.
Today will be the last day of our trip. But when we get to our bikes, another adventure awaited. Another perspective on a trail already traveled. This time back out. Back to our lives outside of the Crazies.
“We need to re-do this one” … it was better than “I will never do this again”.