There are definitely certain things you should bring and wear on a hike ANYWHERE.
History has woven the best cloth of disasters and successes and most of it has been well published, documented and experienced by 3 out of 10 adults.
Today was a majestic “speed hike” to TJ Lake via Barrett Lake.
“What is a ‘speed hike’?” I quizzed Randy last night at about 8:00pm as we were getting ready for bed.
We were battling wind all day on our jobs and I was seriously exhausted. I was SO TIRED I could not get the energy together to squeeze my grapefruit and have a fresh greyhound. That’s pretty tired.
“It’s a fast hike but not running.”
“OK got it.”
Thinking to myself that I had just noted in my journal that I would prefer to meander along the trails and look at the sights rather than buzz through keeping my eyes out in front to avoid tripping and falling AND trying to actually breathe without making myself nauseous.
Yesterday we rode to Horseshoe Lake on our bikes and then ran the lake loop. It ended up being and out and back of 5.5 miles (bike and run) with a total calorie burn (I wore my heart rate monitor) of 650 k/cal.
Today was a grand total of 3.25 miles and 800 k/calls burned!!
That’s because it WASN’T POSSIBLE TO SPEED on any part of this plan.
We had tons of stream and water fall crossings, ascent from Lake George (which is 9,000) to 350 measly feet and I had to stop a number of times to get my brain, lungs and heart together in harmony (and to let the little black dots stop bouncing in my view).
I was hoping it would get easier being up here and pushing myself to try a little harder but so far, after 5 days, I feel like I’m still at Square One. I’ll just “trust the process” and keep at it.
We know of a few friends that have plans to be here which is inspiring us to learn these trails. The method used to mark the trails is not super clear once you are on them. I realized today that both Ansel Adams AND John Muir would not want to see “markings” in their views so it is OK with me to get lost here and there.
When we arrived at TJ Lake we hiked in about a half mile and Randy found a perfect place to do TRX. Of course I had to take pics. I took WAY too many (as per usual).
We followed the signage but ended up lost. TJ Lake “Loop” is not actually around the lake itself. That’s where it was confusing. At the intersection (of the split of the “loop”) we took a right and found the actual lake quickly. It is majestic! We hiked all along the path going up and down and up and down rocks, tree line and near the actual lake. It was chilly (because it was early) and it was perfect. We continued our trek and completely missed the turn off the loop. That took us to boulders that were unpassable (in my opinion) and lots of snow. We decided to turn the bus around and go back the way we came.
Just by chance I caught a sort of “path” looking like part of the trail but we had to go UP on a steep section. We didn’t have a lot of time to dilly-dally so we hustled up with Kona leading us. By pure chance we had discovered the closing portion of the “loop” and thankfully made it out in time.
We headed down past Barrett Lake again and hurried back to Lake George. BOY do I appreciate going downhill and I’m super happy my knees are holding up.
We got to Lake George and there was a guy fishing sitting out in the middle of the lake on what looks like a Lay-Z-Boy recliner. He had caught something and we could see his line tugging. Randy wanted to see (as did everyone else on the shore) what he had caught so we stayed there watching (thankfully in the shade, it was heating up).
Privately I was hoping the fish would get off the line and repeated that to myself in silence. That poor fish was just trying to swim around and likely has a family to get back to. The fisherman most likely lives within a few miles of a grocery store packed with food…so he really, technically, doesn’t need to catch a fish. I’m sure I’ll be revving up a lot of opinions on this point but that’s just how I look at it now.
Well, he caught the fish and it was about 12 inches long flopping all over the place. He got it in his net and we moved on.
Later in the evening we were winding down after our last rounds. I had dinner in the InstantPot (baked potato) and planned to top it with chili I’d made. We had time for me to take Piper on a walk so I got geared up. Taking her on a walk requires protective gloves, sturdy running shoes, a lead, harness on her and her cat carrier. I know I look like a weird Cat Lady and when I walk her I can hear whispers of disbelief that there is a cat at the end of my lead.
While walking her toward Site 1 a young man (like in his 20’s) came storming down the hill toward the Camp Host site. Randy was outside getting a fire stoked. The man was reporting that a bear (the same one) had invaded a family picnic and was eating everything WHILE THEY STOOD AROUND TAKING PHOTOS AND EGGING IT ON. Idiots. Serious idiots. Randy got his running shoes on and grabbed Kona to head down to the lake edge to check it out. We were not “on the clock” so checking into it as a concerned citizen.
Did you know that bears can run up to 30 miles per hour?
Did you know they can and will open up your cooler and take your beer, soda and juices? They will pop them with their teeth and enjoy the nectar.
Did you know that it is just plain STUPID to get close to a bear in any circumstance and take photos ESPECIALLY?
The young man tried to get them to stop but they told him to F-off and that’s why he came to get help from us.
Randy found the scene with these people surrounding (EVEN BRIGHTER, RIGHT?) the bear chowing on their food. He begged them to PLEASE get away from the bear and the man there replied with, “my keys are on the table!” Makes sense to me! There are reports up and down the coast of bears taking advantage of people picnicking with their food spread out everywhere THEN taking their cars for a joyride.
Is this how “thin the herd” came to be something proven?
Randy returned to our trailer and called the Mammoth Mountain Police. No one (we know of) showed up and based on the lack of screams, nobody was hurt.
Friends: You will save yourself and save the bear if you just pack your stuff up, do NOT wear perfumes or cologne, dress in clothing that is neutral, stay in groups and STAY AWAY from them. They are learning bad habits and we are teaching them.
The day before a bear was walking along the edge of the lake taking all of the fish on these things called “stringers”. Those are when a fish is caught and the person is collecting them up. Again, who needs to do this? If it is a sport and you get excited catching a fish…seems to me you can just throw it back in and let it leave or be bear food maybe. ANYWAY, I was secretly happy to hear this was happening but then I read in my BEAR AWARE book how bad it is.
The less impact we have on the wildlife the better for their survival. When a wild animals gets pushed out of its habitat it has to deal with it the only way it knows how to. When this gets to bother a human then the wild animal either gets killed or “relocated”.
I went to bed dreaming about bears and saving them.
TIPS I’M LEARNING – AND RECOMMEND YOU CONSIDER IF YOU PLAN TO COME TO MAMMOTH
SIDE NOTE: Did you know that having iCloud is MEANINGLESS to get your devices synced up if you do not have a solid WIFI connection and lock your phone for an extended amount of time?
SIDE NOTE: Did you know that you should not ever leave to hike without water, a compass, a whistle (this is Black Bear country…I’m reading my Bear Aware book plus it is posted at the park entrance), a long sleeve shirt, wear long pants (mosquitoes), a hat and a map? We get a C- on today having forgot a few critical things. Take a guess which ones. We DID pack a TRX system though and I’m sure we could have eaten is if we got lost in the mountains.
Got plans to roam? Get yourself some bad ass hiking boots. Save your money and get them from REI (they have a no-questions-asked return policy). My hiking boots are Merrell’s and I love them. They come up near my ankle and this came in handy today when we had to go on all fours to move forward on what we thought was a hiking path. They also have grip on the bottom unlike any trail running shoe I’ve worn.
They’re gonna win eventually. If you do not like spraying yourself with bug spray (which seems to NEVER really work) it is recommended you wear loose fitting clothing. I agree with this completely. In Bishop I was eaten alive (my legs were mostly) as we sat outside near a running creek. Here I have not had one bite and we’ve been outdoors every day for hours.
DO NOT WEAR WHITE
Learned this the hard way.
We started on a trek to Crystal Lake (did I mention we got lost?) and I planned to wear a short sleeve completely white bummy t-shirt. Halfway up the start of the hike (I’d say a quarter mile MAX) my shirt had attracted these tiny black bugs – like 50 or more! They were no bigger than the tip of an eyelash. I’d have taken a photo but they would not have shown up they are so small.
Luckily I’d also brought my light flannel and after Randy brushed me off I buttoned that baby up to the top button…GROSS OUT…and made an open comment that I would be showering and washing my hair tonight FOR SURE.
We also discovered these little black bugs like white ANYTHING – like manuals and paper. While reading out Host Manual the pages were getting dark with these dang black bugs all over it.
We have been testing different schedules out.
Today we woke up at 5:30am to slowly rise and relax while sipping coffee and eating breakfast before getting our morning rounds started at 7:00am (which seems to be before most campers rise).
When that was all done (about an hour) we got the pets fed and walked then packed to go on our hike.
That’s about all today!
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