The morning sun began to seep into the basin. The mountains surrounding us gained back their snowy definition and the blue of the water met the green of the trees once more. As we packed up camp, we could see fishy ripples appearing on the lake growing larger as they faded out. We began making our way back to the official trail via a rocky path behind the lake. Before we knew it, we could again see the CDT, but were cliffed out with only a steep scramble in between us and the trail. Slowly, we climbed down the rock. Garbelly shrugged his shoulders and exclaimed, "well we definitely took the more memorable route."
The trail climbed up to Upper Jean Lake. Snow fields began more frequent and everything that wasn't covered in snow was drenched in snow melt. As we crossed a small stream, we noticed the shadows of trout moving about with their heads facing up stream. Once on the other side, we popped out the Tenkara, and Garbelly began casting to the shadows. After a couple casts, he had a taker, a beautifully colored cutthroat. Critter made a couple cast bringing to the bank her own catch. After the release, we packed up and headed onward up trail.
Right before Elbow Lake, we started climbing up a trail that would take us over Shannon Pass joining back up with the Knapsack Col alternate. From the pass we began a small descent down towards Peak Lake. We crossed over snow fields and were completely surrounded by pillars of rock sticking out of the earth like stalagmites.
We stopped shy of the lake to warm up in the sun and eat lunch. Then we headed down talis switchbacks before climbing up over Cube Rock Pass to descend down to Dale Lake. Dale Lake was tucked into a cove carved out into a wall of rock. Frozen patches of ice still rested on the water's surface. The rocks laying by the side of the trail glowed with veins of crystal quartz and serpentine green. This trail has only made us more intrigued by geology and interested in learning more about it when we get home.
Just beyond the lake we saw a hiker taking a break after climbing up and over Knapsack Col. We found out that he was from Israel and had just served his time in the Israeli military. As we headed down the trail, he began strumming a ukulele. We began crossing over a snow traverse, but the snow was much softer and let us cross relatively with ease. We scrambled across large boulders as we made it safely back to the ground.
Then the trail carried us through a canyon with walls extending high into the blue of the sky on either side. We entered back into a forested area and began our descent down to the Green River. Switchback after switchback took us lower and lower out of the Winds, out of the place we had fallen in love with so quickly. We kept looking back, but when we reached the widening river we were amazed.
The water was the most beautiful green color and cut through the earth making large serpentine strokes. The trail took us along the river until we reached a grassy area with a front row view of Squaretop Mountain. We could not turn down this campsite. We set up camp as the mosquitoes began to rally, filtered some water, and found a place to eat dinner.
The mosquitoes were the worst they had been yet. After using our Jetboil, it sat on the ground quickly collecting hundreds of mosquitoes around its warmth. It was a nightmare. As we returned to our tent and climbed in, looking out at the river and mountains as the moon moved into view from behind their grandeur, we suddenly forgot about our little buzzing friends.
Garbelly & Critter