We start at about 5500 feet elevation and hike in about 2.5 miles up to around 7700 feet elevation. For several years we have talked about how fun it would be to make a multi-day trip of it. We could camp at our normal spot, and use it as a base camp to go further up the mountain. There's a lake at around 10,000 feet elevation that we've wanted to get to. It's called Lake Hardy. So this year we decided to do a three-night trip! Day one we would hike in. Day two we would visit the waterfall we always go to and spend some time relaxing. Day three we would hike up to Lake Hardy. Day four we would hike back out.
With such a long trip, our packs were substantially heavier than usual. Parker's and Taylor's were about 42 and 47 pounds, and mine was 55 pounds. Boy could we feel the extra weight!
|Sophi wanted in on the pictures!|
|Parker is teasing me about the width of my stomach in this one. Thanks, bud!|
We got up to camp and started collecting firewood. Taylor found a piece that my brother, Tyler, had stashed the year before. Tyler had climbed about 40 feet up into a tree to dislodge a huge piece of dead wood that could have eventually fallen on someone:
Most of our meals were freeze-dried backpacking food. Just add boiling water and you can quickly have beef stroganoff, turkey tetrazzini, chicken and mashed potatoes, or a wide variety of other dishes. We had s'mores every night. For our hike to Lake Hardy, we even packed in a full loaf of bread and some peanut butter and honey for sandwiches. Delicious!
On the morning of day two, we had one of my favorite moments of the trip. Remember, whatever we had at camp, we had to pack in. Every ounce counted. We strained and sweated to make it up that mountain with the bare necessities of life! So I found it rather hilarious when I glanced over at Parker and saw that he was APPLYING HIS HAIR GEL! Seriously, we did not see one other person the entire time we were up there. A few on the hike up and the hike down, but NOBODY for the duration of our stay. He does look good in his pictures! Go, pretty boy:)
On the morning of day two, the boys decided to do a little beautification of our campsite. They did a really great job! The leveled out our sleeping areas and even cleared another area. We decided we could comfortably fit seven people up there. The boys hope to someday bring their kids and they hope that Grandpa Green (ME!) can go with them:) We'll see how the old back is holding up at that point. Here is what the campsite looked like at the end of our trip. They did a really nice job!
In the afternoon we visited horsetail falls. As is our tradition, we each got in the water. Usually I wait until the boys have gone, and not wanting to feel like a wimp, I then follow suit. This time I was bold and was the first guy in! Notice the progression on our faces as we advance from anticipation to reality as the cold water hits us. Pretty fun!
On day three we attempted to get to Lake Hardy. We had a map and the GPS on my phone. We easily found the first trail and started along it. This trail was supposed to intersect with another trail that would lead up to the lake. We hiked over four miles trying to find the right trail, but unfortunately never did:( We were able to see some parts of the Lone Peak wilderness that we had never been through. We were also treated to some beautiful views we hadn't seen before. We were disappointed and pretty tired, and for awhile, we got pretty discouraged as well. Fortunately, a good dose of humor helped our spirits rise. Every year at Lone Peak there is some sort of mishap or funny story. From a lost sleeping bag, to keys locked in the car, we have a memory that we enjoy from each year up there. This was the year of the cairn.
Towards the beginning of our hike, we had come to a bare granite face. The trail kind of disappeared here and we searched for where it picked up again on the other side of the granite. Fortunately, there was a small cairn marking a path. We began down that path with high hopes. In order to help some future traveler, Taylor added to the cairn, making it more clear. What a helpful young man! As we followed the path, it started to head downhill instead of up and also away from where we needed to be going. But it was such a clearly defined trail, we thought it had to be the one on the map. It's very difficult on a paper map to clearly explain the three dimensional surface of a mountain. We figured the trail might have to go down and through a ravine before it started to head back up . We followed it for almost two miles until we finally became sure we were on the wrong path. By this time, we were pretty bummed. We sat down and had lunch by another river and decided to head back. At this point, my phone battery died, so we no longer had GPS. We knew how to get back to camp, but we were really struggling to find the path to Lake Hardy.
As we headed back (and UP) towards where we had come from, the boys pretty much decided that we were too tired to look for the Lake Hardy trail at this point. Even if we found it, it was another 1.5 miles and 2000 feet elevation gain to get to the Lake, and we were already pretty worn out. But I couldn't quite give it up yet. After backtracking over a mile, I saw a place that might be a path. I told the boys to give me 10 more minutes to see if I could figure out the right way to go. With renewed energy, I started up a small ravine. Bare granite surfaces made it hard to tell if there was a path, or just a small wash from runoff in heavy rains. I hiked out of sight of the boys, continuing to circle around. I was about to give up myself, when I found several cairns marking a trail! I was so excited. I called to the boys at the top of my lungs: "Come up here! I found some cairns! This must be the trail!" They dutifully made their way up to where I was. "Look!" I said. "Look at these cairns and this clearly defined trail!" Taylor gazed at it for a moment with an almost dazed look. Then his face screwed up with a sort of tormented rage. "I built this cairn! It's the one I built!!!" Then, as he kicked one rock at a time off of the pile, he repeated, "I put THIS one on. And THIS one on. And THIS one on! This is the cairn I built!!!"
We all stood there for a moment in silence. Then the humor of the situation hit us and we all began to crack up. It made for a terrifically light ending to a day that had been going downhill (no pun intended:) fast. We tried to look at the bright side of things. We were on our favorite mountain, camping with no responsibilities, spending time with one of our favorite groups of people. We decided to try for Lake Hardy again next year and headed back to camp as we continued to chuckle about the cairn:)
|Hard to tell from this angle, but these logs were about 10 feet above a river. |
Mom would have been nervous watching her boys cross!
During some exploring, the boys had found a really great swimming hole on the river near our campsite. It was icy cold, but still made for a refreshing end to a long day:
We finished up the day with some card games and a great dinner.
Thanks so much, Christi, for letting us have a wonderful trip together. We created memories that will last a lifetime!