Sequoia National Park, California
May 10, 2015
I packed my things swiftly. I've improved each day; junk-wrangling is getting more efficient. Carter made a final sweep, then it was off to Sequoia National Park.
The 120 mile drive didn't take long. Fields of orchards and farming land slowly turned into rolling hills with massive and elegant oak trees. California: as stereotypical as it gets.
Carter purchased his obligatory bumper sticker at the visitor's center, we got our overnight camping pass, and continued driving deeper into the park.
Conditions at the trailhead were ideal; cold mountain air and warm sun. After 20 minutes of rummaging through our thoroughly packed car, I had Frankensteined together an overnight pack. The three of us were ready to set off.
Man, we are slow, sweaty, sea-level bums!
The Lakes Trail was definitely strenuous.
For five miles we climbed upward and gained about 2,000 feet of vertical. Sure, I'm no couch potato, but carrying a backpack at 9,000 feet was exhausting for this non-acclimated landlubber. I probably should eat more snacks next time.
Much to our surprise, we finally descended into Emerald Lake basin which was our camp for the evening. Nestled at the base of a sharp and angular ridgeline, we began setting up camp. Snow-capped peaks completely surrounded the many tiny lakes.
We didn't see another soul.
Tonight's dinner menu: Top Ramen—chicken flavor. The warm, salty broth soothed our aching bones.
Of course, a healthy serving of whiskey was helpful too.
We scrambled to a nearby overlook to watch the sunset. Completely clear skies lead to a wonderful display of alpenglow.
Slowly, the first stars of evening began twinkling in the lavender light.
The temperature kept dropping; you could feel the dismal cold outside the tent.
Inside, I was snuggled up in my bag, warm, and happy to have a hot Nalgene cozied up to my feet. Altitude made it difficult to get to sleep despite today's workout.