Ambrose woke first, of course, but he didn’t wake me. Today was going to be a day of hanging out at the lake. We had no agenda, no schedule to keep. For Independence Day, we were going to have a day of relaxation in the wilderness, beholden to no clock.

Good morning, Blackmare!

Once it was clear that I was getting up, Ambrose did start to make coffee. For breakfast, I decided to see how I liked having granola with hot water. This time, I’d insisted on having no milk powder in my granola, and I was happy about that. Hot water turned the crunchy granola into a hot mush that wasn’t my favorite, but it was okay. Edible, certainly. But I missed the crunch.

Ambrose in the big chair.

A bit of sunlight on the tent. 

This was not far from the chair. 

Photographing butterflies requires patience. 

After we ate, I could feel that I needed to dig a hole soon, so I decided to combine tasks and packed up for a little exploration hike around the lake. I took my water bladder, some jerky, first aid kit, the DEET and my toilet supplies. A very light pack, but I wasn’t going to be going very far. Just around the lake as far as I could, to see what I could see.

Evidence that Blackmare Lake has been a destination for a good number of years. 

A different angle on the lake. 

You can’t tell, but the ground is very wet/muddy/marshy.

I wasn’t more than 10 yards from camp before I had to answer that call of nature. Which was actually a relief. I continued around the lake, confirming the report from the guy that what looked from afar like grassy meadow was actually grassy marsh. Not a good place to camp. I went through the grasses into what Ambrose called the dark wood, having seen it only from across the water. It wasn’t all that dark. But it wasn’t bright either. Trees and grasses, mud and flowers, surrounded by rock walls on one side and water on the other… and no good places for a tent.

I circled back to the water and began to follow game trails that led around the lake. The mosquitoes had by that time, discovered me, and I found myself swatting at them ineffectually with my hands in sheer frustration. They just wouldn’t leave me alone! So I got out the DEET and applied more than I usually would. I made sure to touch every part of me that I could with the DEET on my hands. Sure, they weren’t supposed to be able to get through my clothes, but these gals were aggressive, desperate, and I had enough bites already. The whining buzz calmed down and I continued hiking, waving to Ambrose when I could see him across the lake, watching me.

Got to have flower pictures. 

I can see my tent from here!

This kind of looks like trail…

I made my way by switching from game trail to game trail, depending on which was easiest or most open. 2 to 3 of them seemed to exist at any given point, on different levels. But all too soon I reached a point that was too iffy to go past. The high trail edged right under some boulders. The low and mid were both covered with fallen trees. I wasn’t equipped for that. So I turned back. Still, there was no hurry, so I stopped a few times to stand on rocks just above the water and watch the fish.

I could imagine this as a blaze.

Our camp neighbor was fishing.

And there were fish in the lake. 

As I headed back, I saw the guy fishing, and the dog splashing into the lake. I even caught sight of the girl, from afar. But mostly, I picked my way back. I had a nice time sitting on one boulder and watching teeny tiny fish dart about in the shallows.

Blackmare Lake is beautiful.

More columbine.

After I made my way back to the campsite, I told Ambrose about my exploration and he told me that he’d heard the girl exclaim that someone was across the lake. I figured this meant that they knew I was exploring and wouldn’t be surprised when I showed up to explore towards their campsite.

They might not have been surprised, but they did have a guard dog. I tried to stay low and close to the lake, but when I reached the area where they were camped, I knew it from the barking and growling dog that came out to meet me. I yelled out that it was just me, that I was exploring around the lake, that we’d met last night. That last bit was for the dog. She wasn’t convinced, but since I didn’t head toward her people, she let me be.

Not a lot to see at the outlet.

And not a good place to pitch a tent either.

But there was a nice view.

It wasn’t very far to the outlet, and I agreed with the guy’s assessment of brushy. I was extra, super glad that I’d put my foot down, because it did not look like there was any sort of trail there to come up. After I turned around to head back, I almost stepped on the nest of some waterfowl that contained four little eggs. Since I missed it, I took pictures.

Eggs! And a finger, for size reference.

As I headed back, I saw the couple. They were all packed up and heading out. So I, in a rare burst of sociability, scampered up to them and we chatted a bit. They were also from Boise, and had come up to the lake by way of the outlet. They asked if there was a trail by where we were camped and I said there was. They had come up to escape the craziness of the 4th, which was also one of our reasons for coming. I wasn’t sure why they were leaving so soon, but it might have had something to do with the question the guy asked me the night before – “have you guys run out of bug spray yet?” At the time I thought it was facetious, but if they didn’t have some heavy duty DEET, they probably had run out.

They headed towards our trail, and when they couldn’t find it right away, I came up and showed them the start. Then they were gone and Ambrose and I had the whole lake to ourselves.

This was a good thing, because I planned on getting in the water, and if it was as cold as most Idaho lakes, I would probably be shrieking. Better not to have to explain that to strangers.

We ate lunch and cautiously observed that the wind was chasing off the skeeters. The sun was out, and since I planned to use the tent as a sauna to warm up after being in the water, now was as good a time as any to take the plunge.

I left my sandal shoes on so I wouldn’t risk cutting my feet. And then, of course, I had to pick the best spot to get in the water. Not too muddy, not too shallow, but not too deep either. There were three possibles near our campsite, and I picked the one in the middle. Then it was time. I braced myself for a chill. And the first step was quite cold. But it wasn’t freezing like Browns Lake had been the year before. It was actually quite tolerable. I swam out a bit, floated, treaded water and enjoyed myself for a while before hauling myself out and using my small towel to mostly dry off. Then into the tent for warmth and relaxation.

The tent in full sun creates a sauna effect within.

Getting ready to get in the lake. 

It really wasn’t that cold.

Once being inside the tent began to feel too hot, I knew I was warmed up sufficiently. The rest of the day was lounging around with Ambrose, inside or outside the tent, reading, talking and eventually eating dinner. The mosquitoes weren’t even too bad until dusk. I wanted to go to bed early, because I knew we had a long day ahead of us on the morrow with hiking in and then driving home, but I just couldn’t get comfortable. Even anti-histamines failed to make me pass out. Ambrose suggested a painkiller instead, and he was right. Once it took effect, I was out.

Is it just me, or does this mosquito look abnormally large and bloodthirsty?

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