Sunday, August 14, 2011

Elk Lakes

I was utterly exhausted. But at least now I know my limit. Nine miles.

Nine miles is the new limit for our family. We did 10.2 Saturday, and we are really tired. Still. J and M were troopers and made it with VERY little complaining, but !0.2 miles was one mile to far.

I have to say, however, that it was worth it.

This weekend we hiked Elk Lakes, hike number 26 in WLH. It was a 16.4 km (10.2 mi) easy round trip with 1068 feet in total elevation. The guidebook describes an "inauspicious start" through an old road in a viewless forest. I felt a little sorry for those that can't appreciate what I saw.

The viewless forest trail offered glimpses of distant mountains, flowing streams, and a mulitutde of wildflowers. We couldn't look up and out, so we looked down and around. Reminds me of the old saying, "You can't see the forest for the trees." For a flatlander who used to live in a swamp, the cool and quiet of the forest was beautiful.

The temperature when we left the car - 46 degrees.

Even better, for the first time since we have been in Canada, we hiked for miles and did not see a soul. There was nobody on the trail until just before we reached our destination.

Arriving at Upper Elk Lake, we sat at the edge of the blue-green water and the only sounds we could hear were the sounds we made ourselves and the sounds of the waterfall cascading into the lake on the other side.

Apologies for the photos. I left the big Nikon D90 in the car because it is SO heavy and I knew we were going farther than usual. I carried our pocket Canon with an almost dead battery instead. I could have taken hundreds of photos; but, because of the battery issue, all I really got was this view from our chosen lunch location:

That is Castelneau Glacier in the middle left of the picture. Even dry peanut-butter and jelly tastes good with a view like this.

And this from the beginning of the hike back to the trailhead:

Yes, we did cross that rock slide. Yes, I was very glad I had on hiking boots. They saved my ankles a number of times on this trip.

Lessons learned:

Elevation is elevation. I thought this would be easier because the trail gains 600 feet and then loses 400. Then you just have to regain the 400 before you get to go back down the 600. Having the elevation broken up is a little easier, but not significantly.

People are truly surprised to see M on the trail. He is a little small for his 8 years, so I assume they think he is younger than he is. His stride is shorter so he has to take more steps than the rest of us and his feet tire out faster, but he just goes. Maybe he didn't complain today because he knew NOONE was going to carry him to the car.

Good gear matters. J, M and I all got new packs this week. I love my new pack. The pack itself is about 3 pounds lighter and it fits. Correctly. It was so comfortable that it changed the way I hike. The weight was transferred to my hips instead of my shoulders and I was less fatigued than I would have been with my old pack. Still fatigued, but less so.

Take more water. We ran out at mile 9. Better than running out at mile 7, but still not good

On another note. A sorority sister of mine completed the Leadville 100 bike challenge yesterday in a little over 11 hours. Makes a 10 mile hike look a little weak. Congrats!

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