Hiking with Holly

Backpacking Mammoth 2015: Day 4

Lake Virginia to Duck and Pika Lakes

Miles: 7

Making my morning cup of joe.

It’s a crisp, partially cloudy morning.  As per usual, I am getting the coffee going to help jump-start our day.  We do our camp chores and hope some of our clothes have dried through the night.  This was not the weather that I was planning on for this trip.  I was planning for warm weather with occasional afternoon thunderstorms that blow over quickly.  I wanted to swim in the streams and lakes and lay on big warm boulders to dry.  I was not worried about bathing and keeping clean, because of all the water I would be swimming in.  By day 4 we have had 2 days of rain and cool weather.  No swimming or bathing for us.  I am just thankful that I prepared for all kinds of weather on this trip.  We are always warm and at night sleep cozy in our tent.  Bathing has resorted to using baby wipes, which really don’t do much of anything.  We are really starting to smell like hikers!  No amount of Gold Bond powder is going to take this stink away…it just adds to the mixture.

Morning at Lake Virginia. People spreading their stuff on boulders to dry out before they head out for the day.

There are people out closer to the lake laying their tents on the boulders to hopefully get dry before they move on for the day.  We put our smelly clothes on and make our way opposite everyone else and head towards Purple Lake.  It is a pretty easy climb up and over to Purple and we get there much sooner than expected.  There are still a few people packing up for the day and filtering their water.  I am thinking what a late start they are getting to their day and wondering how far they will get today.

Hiking over to Purple Lake
Our view hiking over a saddle.
The bridge over Purple Lake. Guy on right filtering water.
We are on the right trail to Duck Lake.

As we are climbing over another small saddle we run across two young guys.  They are in their early 20’s.  We take notice to them as one is very talkative and social with us, but the other is very quiet.  The quiet one is also openly carrying a revolver in a holster on his hip.  It is illegal to visibly carry weapons on the trail and we are surprised at how brazen he is about it.  The talkative one tells me their story and it does seem legit.  We are still cautious of “Gunslinger” (that is what we decided to name him) and just talk courteously each time we pass each other.  It is a windy day, but the sun is coming out, so we happily welcome it.

Pointing out a good place for a bathroom break!
Some big boulders on the side of the saddle.

We make it up to Duck Lake and decide to have a snack a bit off trail, but to where we could see Gunslinger and Talkative go by and over Duck Pass.  We did not feel comfortable having them know where we were camping that night.  We see them go over the pass and we start our climb up to the junction of Pika Lake. Some day hikers stop us at the junction and talk with us for a while.  They are very interested in how long we have been out and what is involved in doing something like this.  It’s kind of fun to share our experience with them so far.  We head down and over to Pika to find a campsite for our last night.

Made it to Duck Lake.
Trail along a ridgeline to Duck Pass and Pika Lake.

We find a site that is pretty good.  Gannon loves it, because of the little chipmunk that has decided to become our one and only thief.  Gannon leaves his pack open a little and he is able to get in and start eating our Top Ramen.  We put our cups out to make some tea and he is crawling inside of them!

How random to find a boat soo far out here!
Campsite #1

We go exploring and find an even better site that is in between the 2 lakes.  We somehow missed it on the way in.  It has a weird old structure like a cache that was built into the ground.  I guess it was probably used to store stuff years ago.  We decide to move our tent with everything in it, over to the new one.  Quite the sight we were carrying our tent fully loaded, down the trail to our new site!

Weird cache that we find at campsite #2. People have thrown trash in it.
Campsite #2.

We hear running water from Pika going into Duck Lake and it makes for great white noise at night.  No one else is there and we are alone again for our last night.  The sunset is soo lovely here and we sit on a log together and watch as it goes behind the mountains.  Our journey is almost at an end.

Sunset over Duck Lake.
Our final sunset on our journey. Duck Lake.

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