Friday, August 20, 2010

South Lake To North Lake Trip Report Day 5

The plan for the day was to hike down to Blaney Hot Springs and the Muir Trail Ranch to check our email. It sounded like a great plan from home but once we started hiking it was not so great. It was so hot we couldn't imagine getting in a hot springs. We hiked really quickly and I even ran a little of the trail. It was nice to hike without our backpacks on and eventually we made it down to Blaney Meadows.
What we didn't realize was that the hot springs were across the San Joaquin River and we didn't bring our water shoes. We couldn't imagine actually wanting to get in hot water in the heat of the day anyways. It was very far across and very rocky and I didn't think crossing without shoes or getting our shoes wet and then having to hike in wet shoes. So we didn't go. It was the whole reason I planned this trip but when we actually got to the point of going we decided not to.

While down by the river deciding we met a very interesting "family." There were about 8-10 teens and one older couple. All the teens had various body piercings and seemed to be the exact same age. They were very hippy in appearance and attitude. I wonder if they were foster children or if this couple somehow managed to have so many teens that were the same age? This family was getting kicked out of their campsite because they had camped too close to the river.

We then went to Muir Trail Ranch. It is a ranch that has guests come in and stay for a week giving them a rustic setting for their family reunion or whatever. It was very rustic. There were horses and horse droppings everywhere. The people who ran it were quite interesting. But they had the internet and allowed us to pay 10 dollars to check our email. I just wanted to make sure the kids were okay and this allowed me to so I was grateful.

On the hike back to our camp Cameron's toe hurt quite a bit. He didn't know what was wrong but it was bothering him. It was hot and the 3 miles seemed quite a long ways. We were happy to get back to camp and spent a long time just soaking our toes.

Cameron then suggested that we might want to hike up Piute Canyon a ways tonight when it was cool as opposed to in the morning. The map suggested that the trail was quite steep in the beginning and we were a little worried about how that might be in the sun. I didn't want to at first but his idea was a good one and so I decided to go with it.

We waited until the sun was off the canyon. We first ate dinner and then packed up camp. We started hiking at about 5:30 pm. The trail was very steep. The trail maker seemed to have an aversion for switchbacks and mostly the trail was just straight up. Some of the steps were almost impossible to do with a backpack on and I felt like I might as well be rock climbing. It was very hard work and we hiked slowly up the trail. I was very grateful to be hiking in the cool evening as opposed to the warm morning. There were occasional stretches that went downhill and some switchbacks as we went higher up that started to save us. I had a goal in mind that I wanted to get to Hutchinson Meadow by dark. It was a lofty goal and I wasn't sure we would make it.

We passed one campsite without water and another creek without a campsite. There didn't seem to be any good campsites. The mosquitoes were really bad too and so we just kept hiking. The trail flattened and we were in some trees with lots of flowers as undergrowth. We started looking for a campsite but there didn't seem to be any sites around. We kept hiking as it got dark and eventually made it to a campsite just as it was fully dark.

The campsite seemed perfect. It had water close by, wood for a fire and a nice flat place for the tent. Right as we got settled and all unpacked we realized there was a distinct smell around. We didn't know what it was and headed out to pump water for our chocolate pudding mix. We ran right into a dead horse. Now I knew what the smell was. I couldn't stomach the idea, nearly lost my dinner and made Cameron move our camp. We ended up carrying our tent between us with our backpacks on about 200 yards upstream and upwind of the dead horse. I want to thank whoever felt the best thing to do would be leave their dead horse in the middle of a campsite for giving me that smell and experience. Our total mileage for the day was 6 miles without backpacks and 5 miles with backpacks on.