“…and a few loud huffs, like they’re playing or something. I sure hope they don’t decide to play Billy goat’s gruff on top of that orange boulder they’re running around…”
4.1 miles, 1392ft gain/loss. It’s still technically night at 3:00am, but it’s at this wee hour of the morning that we get some loud visitors around the tent. We can hear goat hooves clattering around the tent, sometimes running, and a few loud huffs, like they’re playing or something. I sure hope they don’t decide to play Billy goat’s gruff on top of that orange boulder they’re running around. Not sure I want a surprised animal with sharp hooves and horns landing in the middle of my gut! We stay awake until they leave…
Up around 7, we shoulder our day packs, and head up the ridge past Doran and Mary’s site, and they too, are up, and ask, “ What happened to the early start?” It’s now 8:30, and not so early…”Ah, you know…Cup of joe, and breakfast, and before you know it, the mornings’ half over!” They too, are gearing up to head up the ridgeline.
Within 20 minutes, we’re at the top of the ridge, and looking back down to the now small lakes below us, it’s an awesome sight. The deep blue of the waters stands in stark contrast to the bald granite creating their shorelines, and beyond, you can see the snowy slopes of Mt. Daniel and wave after wave of sharp outlined peaks and mountains in relief against the morning skyline, stretching as far as you can see. The farther peaks blend together, as the distance hazes the edges, like an oil painting.
“…below us there are small tarns with ice blue waters, ice still covering them in places, among the litter of broken granite…”
Now, we must turn left, and cross a small saddle, humped high with snow, the peak of which is quite narrow, only a couple of feet wide. Across the saddle, it’s a quick scramble up to the first bump on this ridgeline, an unnamed rounded top, and then head east along another ridge to the top of Granite Mt. Within an hour, we’ve bagged our first peak! We look around the large granite boulders that sit jumbled atop the peak for a register, but find none. Perhaps this mountain is too minor a peak to justify one, I guess. No matter, the views here are well worth the effort! In the distance to the north, we can see Glacier Peak, and Mt. Baker, while below us there are small tarns with ice blue waters, ice still covering them in places, among the litter of broken granite that has sloughed off the various small peaks that make up this ridgeline of the Granite Mountains.
We make our way back to the first little peak on this ridgeline, and we run into Doran and Mary again, and stop to chat for a few minutes, before continuing on our quest along the ridge towards Trico Mt. The ridge encircles Robin lakes below, the largest lake looks like a scene from some section of the north Atlantic, deep blue waters dotted on top with white ice chunks. Hard to believe that August is almost over, it still looks like late May, or June here…Twenty minutes or so later, we find that we have to clamber downhill somewhat, on the side opposite the lakes, to avoid tangled firs and bus sized boulders. On the wayward side of Robin Lakes, we can look down into the tree line on this side and see the pretty twins, Klonaqua Lakes, almost 1000ft below us, ringed in trees.
Continuing along the ridge, we can see an easier way to get up to the top of the ridge once again, and for the remainder of the ridge we’re able to keep Robin Lakes in sight. Down to the far northern tip of the lake, we cross over, past several more snow lined tarns, and then find a on again, off again climbers trail up the next ridge line to Trico Mt. Snow covers the trail in several places, and it’s not until we’re past the Granite Mt. Potholes, another string of lakes, then the snow peters out, and it’s just a constant uphill slog under the penetrating sun. At the top, we talk for a few minutes with a couple that arrived shortly before we did, while admiring the mountaintop views from here.
“…Within seconds, we begin the fly swatting dance, high,lo, lo, high high, lo, lo, “Dang bugs!”
There are a scattering of even more lakes below us to the NE, including little Phoebe, larger Leland, and a couple of smaller tarn sized lakes called Shoal and Jungfrau lakes. In the distance, to the north, is ice capped Glacier Peak. Stopping for even a few minutes is difficult, for it allows our constant nemeses, the biting flies and mosquitoes, to swarm us, looking for openings. Within seconds, we begin the fly swatting dance, high,lo, lo, high high, lo, lo, “Dang bugs!” Hi, lo, and so on, looking only slightly crazed as we continue our mad swatting…It’s easier to keep moving, so we bid farewell, and head back down trail.
“…Those, no matter the point of indifference you’ve reached, you ALWAYS swat at, or try to kill, because if you don’t, the little bugger is likely to fly off with a piece of your hide…”
A few minutes from the top, in a meadow that occasionally allows a cooling and bug scattering breeze to blow up and over us, we stop for a quick bite in between the constant hand waving necessary to keep the bloodsuckers from draining us dry. There comes a point, I know I’ve reached it several times myself, where you feel as if you’re about to be driven over the edge, and turn into a raving lunatic, the bugs just are that bad. Eventually, though, you reach a point of resignation, (or at least I know I did), where you just let them land, only occasionally paying them any attention unless the bite hurts, or it’s a horse fly. Those, no matter the point of indifference you’ve reached, you ALWAYS swat at, or try to kill, because if you don’t, the little bugger is likely to fly off with a piece of your hide…I’d reached that point of not caring anymore, sitting here in the hillside meadow, looking out towards Mt. Daniel. I wondered if there were any bugs there, on its snow filled slopes…
Lunch over, it’s a downhill march back to camp. A nice round trip, we’ve bagged two named peaks, covered 4.1 miles, gained and lost 1400ft, and back in camp by 2:30pm. Now, all we want is some relief from the horrible insects, and we climb into the tent to rest, and to have an hour’s respite from being constantly harassed by the biting insects. The goats are back and we get some more good pictures. I’m able (I didn’t try, really) to get within 10 feet of the goats, as they amble by our tent. After dinner, we wander uphill once again to Doran and Mary’s camp, to meet their family, Justin and Eva and watch the nighttime spectacle one more time… We are not disappointed. We trade stories of the trail and lives in general, have some good laughs, and as we leave their camp, I tell them that you meet the nicest people out on the trail. Thanks again for your hospitality; we sure enjoyed our time together!!!