Our morning did not begin with bright sunshine or bone chilling cold air. Actually it was perfect conditions to oversleep. While Critter was on board with this plan, Garbelly's eagerness to start making miles led to a 6:30 AM start. We had a couple big climbs to complete.
Over an hour later we were at the top of our first pass. Tincup pass gave us beautiful snowy views of the valleys on either side. We took a few pictures and then quickly began our descent. Skipping over snow melt streams and stomping through snow we made our way to Mirror Lake. Just as the name described, it perfectly reflected the mountains that stood above it. The water was very high and in fact washed out parts of the trail. We all decided bushwhacking through the brush would be quicker than trying to stay on the underwater trail so we headed up and around the lake. After the lake we began climbing up another big pass. In the clear heat of the day, we decided to have lunch before heading back down into the snow. Soon we would be cooking our warm meals and climbing in our beds!
While quickly stumbling the last few miles of trail, Garbelly led the way. As he rounded the last switchback, a large series of crashes and splashes jolted them to a stop. Peering through a small thicket of trees, there stood two large moose just thirty yards away. The larger male took off charging through the marsh. Large moose of this size can tower towards almost seven feet tall at the shoulder. While only his head remained above the water, with each bound he flew out of the water revealing the bottom of his chest. Garbelly yelled for Critter to look and see this powerful creature. Within an hour and a half, we saw 7 or 8 moose including a massive bull with huge cupping antlers and a small calf moose following its mother. As enthralled as we were to see these stoic behemoths, we knew how dangerous they were and had heard plenty of stories of people being charged.
Ironically, we weren't worried about the large moose but instead we were being tormented by a creature much smaller. Mosquitoes. Before today, they had been pesky and annoying, but in this area they waged all out war. We slapped our legs and faces as they dive bombed, buzzed our ears and then slyly landed on the backs of our necks. There was no escaping them. This caused us to hike even faster towards camp. We all talked of building a fire to smoke them out of our camp site.
In just a short while, we had arrived to the perfect location to set up our tents. Right on the shoreline of Texas lake. Surprisingly the mosquitoes were not that bad here. We found out this was most likely due to the large number of swallows and fish rising in the lake.
While Texas Lake was not the largest lake in the United States, but it was large. It was the largest unfrozen, un-dammed lake we had come across so far. As the sun set, moose migrated from the woods across the opposite side of the lake where they settled down for the night. We got out the tenkara rod and fished as we observed all of the active wildlife around us. A large swooping osprey caught more fish than we did and we quickly decided it was time to eat.
With the sun long gone from the sky, we laid on our thermarest sleeping pads and quickly drifted to sleep. In the back of our minds, we thought there was a large chance of being awoken by a moose. Nevertheless, we went to sleep very quickly.
Garbelly & Critter