I didn’t sleep much that night at Pete Lake. Perhaps it’s time to admit my tired old body can’t handle sleeping on an ensolite foam pad. I have some modifications I’d like to make to my Z Rest pad. If that doesn’t improve my sleep, I may have to pay the weight and cost penalty and start using a heavier but cushier sleeping pad.
I just weighed my old self-inflating pad. The Z Rest weighs a pound. The self-inflating pad weighs seven ounces more. I’ve had the self-inflating pad self-deflate, so I’m not crazy about it. But if it’ll hold air — Jim’s never had his self-deflate — I feel better about making the switch. As predicted, I didn’t get to sleep until very late, and I didn’t sleep well. I woke around four, and crawled out of the tent around 4:30. Between needing to pee, the birds greeting the dawn, and not being very comfortable, it just made sense to get up. I also preferred getting an early start so I knew I would make it to the ranger station while they were open.
Breakfast didn’t involve any casualties to my equipment.
Breakfast is my favorite part of the day while hiking. I can’t explain it, but there’s something magical about the sipping a cup of steaming coffee in the morning’s chill while watching the alpenglow paint the surrounding mountain. Being alone brings it so sharply into focus. I am a part of this vast universe. I am made of the same elements. I am but a tiny speck of matter in the enormity of it all. I’ve never found that thought demoralizing. In fact, I find a great depth of love and power in the thought. I am a tiny speck, but I matter. In the cool of the morning, I can drink in the stunning beauty of nature and be grateful for being able to hear and smell and see and feel.
Ponderin’ doesn’t get one down the trail, though. I packed up, surveyed my campsite to ensure I’d left no trace of my being there (no spent matches, no garbage, et cetera), and headed back to the Owhi campground. I stopped at the main access to Pete Lake to snap a photo of the spot where I’d eaten lunch the previous day. It’s much prettier in the morning light.
The trip back to civilization was uneventful. I stopped in my campsite to clean up a bit and change my clothes. I made my report to the ranger – she was grateful for the news about the amount of snow and the trees that I believe will prevent horses from making the trip up that route to Waptus. The other route to Waptus Lake that I could have taken has a high point of 5400′. If snow obstructed the trail above 4000′, I’d have never made it over that pass. The ranger told me some hikers reported they couldn’t make it to Pollalie Ridge because of snow. Last winter’s snowfall is going to stick around a while.
I arrived home exhausted. I’d had about 10 hours of sleep in the previous two nights, and I’d burned a lot of energy during those days. I showered, checked out the amazing array of mosquito bites I had — they bit me through my shirt! — and started planning for the return trip the following day. I slept really, really well that night.