Monday, July 31, 2006

Hiking to Pear Lake and swimming back


No matter how often you've hiked, you learn something new on every hike. I'm not what you'd call an experienced hiker by any means. perhaps Andrew might qualify for that title! But on this trip Andrew and I recalled the valuable lesson all mothers try to instill in their children: always take your rain jacket with you! I think perhaps our companions were better at recalling this valuable maternal lesson.
(From Left to Right: Olaf, Sheila, Julie, Eric, Kimi)

Our first hint should have been that the weather, while formerly extremely hot and dry, was overcast and cool when we started. In fact, our initial plans were to hike in the Lakeshore Trail in the Stehekin area north of Lake Chelan which was cancelled due to forest fires in the area. So I s'pose we were all somewhat relieved to have cooler weather to hike in... Andrew, Sophie, and I joined with our friends Sheila and Olaf, and met Olaf's friend and coworker Eric (who is about to be a new father in September, and admitted this hike was his last solo childless venture) and Eric's sister Julie, who is in her 2nd year of law school at the UW. Of course we had our dog, Sophie, and Sheila and Olaf brought Kimi as well.

Destination: Pear Lake
Mileage: About 8 miles
Highest Elevation: 5200 ft

It was a very lovely trail, beginning in the woods with some elevation and switchbacks. After a while, it leveled out and we crossed several streams, we even found a nice log to rest on and enjoy a few bites of lunch.

Sophie checking out Sheila's bagel while Kimi is being a watchful good dog.

Andrew oohing over Olag's GPS while checking on our progress.

After lunch, Andrew and I became lunch for a few mosquitos. We learned the mosquitos preferred (in this order) me, Andrew, Eric, Julie, Olaf...and Sheila not at all who didn't even get a bite! (grrr!) We then hiked through lovely alpine-y meadows in the Sound of Music style...with pretty flowers and greenery up to my hips which you can imagine became virtual water spouts on our rainy return hike.
Kimi (left) and Sophie (right)

This was Sophie's first overnight hike with us and she was very fun to have along. When you take a dog out in the wild you see firsthand how well their bodies are suited to scrambling up rocks, splashing through pebbly streams, and navigating muddy banks. You also marvel at their seemingly endless store of energy and laugh at how bouncy and happy they seem in the great out-of-doors where they naturally once belonged. Sophie and Kimi both instinctively stayed close to the group, as soon as out of sight they would either come back while wiggling their tails or sit down on the trail and wait for us. We even put bear bells on them both as an added precaution. I wish I had pictures of our return trip where we met a man with 4 horses, and Sophie was nose-to-nose with a large, calm black horse who patiently bent down to meet her curiousity.
Sophie waiting for me to get my butt up the trail. Note Andrew is far ahead and out of sight. =)

When our group reached the trail's high point of 5200 feet, we looked down upon Pear Lake to discover that it really is shaped like a Pear! At that point, I was too hot and eager to get down there and set up camp to take a picture for you, dear readers....and of course thought I'd get one on the way out. So you just may have to take my word for it, or enjoy the hike there yourself to find out=)Sheila and Andrew searching for that perfect campsite.

Setting up camp...look at those nice tents! We have an old 10-lb Costco affair, which is definitely NOT in this picture.

We found a great campsite near the edge of the lake discovered it was quite cool once we'd stopped hiking. We all quickly set up camp and gathered some wood while Andrew got a fire going. Olaf treated everyone to a suprise blueberry cobbler, and Eric introduced us to the concept of adding just a bit of whiskey to hot cocoa to warm up. (ok, so I can stand a drop with hot cocoa, Andrew can't stand it any other way than straight up).
Andrew watching over the fire while chatting with Olaf
Of course the dogs played to no end. Once the dogs stopped playing, we noticed they were quite cool and Sheila draped Kimi in a fancy blue dog-coat...Sophie had to make do with the warmth of the fire and her blanket. A nice time and conversation was at at the fireplace and we retired shortly after dark.
Tugging on eachother's bear bells is fun!

In the morning we awoke to rain =( wind =( and cold. Andrew and I discovered that wearing your long johns under hiking shorts and your pack cover over your head will do in a pinch if you happen to be as foolhardy as we were. Everything became wet quite quickly, I felt as if my hiking boots ought to be spraying water every time my foot hit the ground. We made it back to the cars as quickly as possible..Andrew made it quite a bit before everyone and had sweetly draped his fleece around a wet and formerly shivering Sophie (aaww). The entire group stopped in Index for some huge, yummy burgers before heading home.

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