It didn’t take long for Brandi to fall asleep.  As tired as I was, my mind just could not shutdown. My mind was racing thinking about everything from the day that we had, the day that was to come, to work, family, and projects that I needed to get done. It always seems to be that way. The mountains haveFullSizeRender (4) always tended to recharge my soul and clear my mind. I knew that we would have to be up early to make the 13+ miles we were hiking and do it at a decent time while still taking in the trek.  As I started to drift off to sleep, I could hear hooves moving up the trail.  As the sound drew closer, I thought I must be dreaming.  The voice in the distance sounded like an old friend and college roommate. I opened my eyes trying to decide if it was a dream. I realized it wasn’t when I heard him talking about the tent.  My wife had apparently moved the tent from where I had set it up while I was fishing.  Now we were closer to the trail than I would have placed us, but it was a more level spot. I started to laugh, deciding to let Mitch ride by knowing that he must be camped at the far end of the lake and just going up to check the pass. The next morning came fast.  We started to break camp and pack up.  Unlike yesterday, there was no Mountain House breakfast.  As my wife went on to explain it later, her body typically goes into “survival mode” as she puts it.  She does not feel hungry or a need to eat. I started to see this the previous day with trail mix for lunch. Picture a small economical Prius travelling with a big old pickup truck that watched the gas gauge drop every time the gas pedal gets pushed.  On this trip, that would accurately describe Brandi and I.  The down side for the old pick up was that the Prius was planning the fuel stops.  In my thought process, I decided to make sure we had all of the gear on my pack and I left her in charge of the food so she would have what she wanted to eat; making the trip more enjoyable for her. Luckily I had thrown in some meal replacement shake mix in my pack.

We made our way down the trail and around the small alpine lake.  As we came to the old cabin at Overland Lake, we met a group of ladies packing up their camp to proceed down the trail on their adventure. We exchanged pleasantries and moved on to the horse camp at the end of the lake.  Sleeping bags filled with bodies were scattered around the camp as three men were setting to the task of making breakfast and coffee.  As the trail turned away I walked into their camp as I was greeted with a polite hello from Mitch. I laughed and greeted him by name to his surprise. We laughed and visited foIMG_2417r a bit.  I was as surprised at seeing him as he was seeing me.  Typically this time of year would find him in the hay field working, but this large group had booked him for a pack trip. He had packed them in with 22 horses and mules complete with all the fixings!  He offered us coffee, bacon and eggs.  The smell was absolutely enticing, but we had to move on.  Sitting down for such a meal would probably kill my motivation to go the rest of the way, especially travelling with the Prius (although she says more of a fiat)! The smell of eggs, bacon, and coffee filled the air. Brandi and I joked that next time we might need to book with High Desert Outfitters because his mules looked stouter than I am.

Dropping down out of the basin that held overland lake was some beautiful country to say the least.  The rugged mountains with sheer cliffs give way to the lush green growth still fed by the snowy runoff and eventually down to the valley below. The down side to this is we were once again losing much of the elevation that we had gained.  That is the theme of this hike, that and the amazing views that surround you.  Since we had stopped and visited with Mitch and stopped to take in the views, it wasn’t long before the group of ladies caught up with us.  We spent a good portion of the day passing each other on little breaks and visiting as we did. This was the long day, without water for a big portion of the trail.  Knowing that I usually use a lot of water, we did not pass up any water source. Luckily there were still patches of snow along the trail in July, so worst case scenario we could just melt snow on our stove.  Making our way down the trail, we would stop to glass the area and watch wildlife. Every time we would crest a ridge, we would watch the trail drop back down across a vast expanse only to rise and cut back on the far ridge.  As the sun continued to beat down on us, we were thankful to be at such an elevation that the temperature didn’t hit the highs that the valleys below were getting. My wife remarked a little rain would be a nice thing. We continued on throughout the day hiking, glassing, and taking small breaks. As we moved into the afternoon I could see storm clouds out in the distance.  We kept on.  The smell of bacon and eggs still running through my mind mixed with the story Matt had about his steak from the Star that they packed with them for dinner the first night. I told Brandi that we were going to the Star for steak sandwiches.  This became a joke and driving factor.  IMG_2425Each time we stopped for a break, I would tell her that we were that much closer to the boys and a steak sandwich! Being the first time we had ventured out without the boys, it was in both of our minds.  We were excited to get home again to them.  Thankfully I was carrying a SPOT satellite phone so we could call the boys each day.

 In late afternoon we were met by a runner.  He was in training for a race and was running from the Lamoille canyon trail head in.  He was making great time. Even without the small apartment I was carrying on my back, I would not have been anywhere near that pace. As he ran passed us in the opposite direction, he told us he wasn’t going much further as he was starting to cramp up.  Soon he was flying by us again.  We kept on the trail towards camp and ultimately our family and steak sandwiches.  The runner disappeared in the distance.  The storm clouds were moving closer and closer.  We discussed setting it to wait it out or try to make the next ridge. Although Brandi had asked for a little rain earlier, I knew this rugged country doesn’t know the meaning of a little anything.  We pressed on up the ridge.  The storm caught us with wind and rain. The strong wind added to the climb for sure.  We pushed on to crest the ridge.  I decided that we would drop over the ridge and wait out the storm.  We pushed on as the rain whipped against us in the wind.  Dropping over the ridge I grabbed the tent and told Brandi to dive inside.  She held the tent down as I set it up around her.  Once the tent was secured, I climbed in and we waited out the storm.  The warm tent provided a perfect place for a little nap during the storm.  After the storm passed, it took a little coaxing back out and down the trail.  Knowing that we were close to North Furlong Lake, we packed up and headed back down the trail.  It was only a short hike and our trail friends could be viewed through the trees.  As we made our way into the clearing we were greeted by cheers and waving.  As we got to their camp, we talked about that day’s journey.  We moved down the trail a bit to set up our camp.  As I was setting up the tent for the second time in the same day, they came to visit with their friend Jack.  As they handed us what they saved for us in tIMG_0262he small bottle, we laughed and talked some more. We talked about the gear that we had and what seemed to make the biggest impact.  I lent them the satellite phone to check in with family and friends. As the evening gave way to night, we sat back and enjoyed the picturesque backdrop.  We talked about the beauty of the country, the trail itself, and the fact that we were able to do this together.  The double serving of Mountain House dinners made for a great night sleep.  The realization set in that we were just hours from being done.  The adventure was almost over.