Hard to say goodbye to such a beautiful lakeside spot. 

I expected Ambrose to wake me, but I actually got up at a decent time all on my own. Decent time being, before he had to wake me, in this case. I ate my breakfast in the tent and we both put picaridin on trouble spots. I had discovered that while most of my shirt kept the mosquitoes at bay, the breathable mesh under my arms absolutely did not. Also, bug protection on my butt was required since I had to expose every time I needed to pee. I think we left only about an hour after I woke up, which is pretty good timing for us.

Heading down from the lake.

A bit of route-finding. 

Last year, we couldn’t figure out how to connect the trail we’d found with the one we’d gotten lost from. So instead we went cross country and just headed up to the 2nd lake. This year, we were determined to hook those trails up. Ambrose even brought marking ribbon to make the next trip easier. So we were very careful, very vigilant as we went down the trail and got to the place that got us in trouble.

The clues we had from the couple and dog we met last year were that they’d found it because their dog was leading them, finding the trail by looking low to the ground, and to look for a three rock cairn. Neither of those clues helped us get there, but maybe one could help us get back. We crossed the 2nd lake outlet and then Ambrose seemed to figure something out. The trail was more clear looking down to where the bushes weren’t growing up from. And then we started spotting cairns. We started flagging trees and then we made it back to the spot where we always got lost. We’d done it!

But wait.

There – that was the three rock cairn, nearly hidden under the low-hanging branches of a conifer. And the trail inexplicably zig-zagged when it could easily go straight across and be a whole lot less confusing. Well, this wasn’t really a trail. Not officially. So I took matters into my own hands and made sure that the flags we placed were clear. I even kicked over a couple cairns, because they led in the wrong direction. But not all of them, because for all I knew, there was another trail coming from the other direction. I believe I helped make that (no) trail better at any rate.

We conquered the twists and turns of the (no) trail.

And then headed up to the 2nd lake. 

Right back up the steep and rocky incline.

To the lovely 2nd lake. 

After that, I went ahead of Ambrose to the 2nd lake. The rocky part wasn’t nearly as scary going up as it was coming down. And it felt faster. I was at the 2nd lake faster than I expected, but not as fast as my achey calves wanted. The steep uphill had felt like torture to my legs. And feet.

So I took the opportunity afforded by waiting for Ambrose to catch up and sat down on a large boulder – after a quick DEET re-apply. I also ate a snack as I waited.

Ambrose prepares for a snack. 

A surprisingly comfortable boulder. 

Those cut logs look like evidence of a camping site at lake 1 – I’ll have to check it out next time!

When he arrived, I helped DEET him up and then we parted. I was going to go on to the car from this point, since we both knew how to get back. I promised myself that I wouldn’t worry about him too much. And then I hiked on.

The trail aggravated my calves again by stubbornly angling uphill, but it was a lovely day. The sun was mostly hidden by clouds so it wasn’t as hot as it had been the last two days. And I only got a little lost…

After the saddle, there were a few points where I lost the trail. I couldn’t see the next cairn and I headed right when I should have gone straight. But I was able to find the trail again by going slow and keeping a good lookout. From there it easy to get back to the top of the ridge that would lead me down to the official trail. That part wasn’t easy, because it is steep, downhill and the ground tends to rocky ball bearings. But I made it down and then I was really off.


Probably not really lost…

Most likely not actually lost…

Heading down towards the real trail.

It was about 11 o’clock when I got back to official trail, and I didn’t think I could make it back by noon, but I wanted to be back before 12:30. That, I figured, was doable.

Getting lost and hiking for over 10 hours was a test of endurance. I’m going to need that endurance for my solo hike this year. But I’m also going to need some speed. And on the way back to Kennally Creek Campground, I trained my speed. If I step too quickly, my feet burn. So I have a limit there that I’m trying to find and ride. Not so fast that I aggravate, but fast. I want to be able to do 3 miles per hour on flats and average 2mph throughout the day for my 20 milers. That’s 10 hours of hiking, and probably a 14 hour day with breaks factored in.

The trail went by quickly, but I did take one more break, sort of. I mean, I’d been seeing huckleberry bushes the whole trip, with either no berries, or tiny green ones. But as I hiked back to the car, I saw bushes with reddish purple berries. Not quite ripe. But close enough. I ate probably a dozen of the sweet, tart berries, seeing more as I stopped to look. They were delicious!

Back to the trail!

Ever so slightly less than ripe huckleberries. 

So delicious!

I forded my only stream crossing with care, stepping on rocks to avoid getting water in my boots. From there, it was just 2 miles. And then 1 mile. And then I was there. I walked to the car and drove it closer to the trailhead, since the camp ground was empty and I wanted to save Ambrose the trip. Then I gathered my traveling clothes and took off my boots before walking over to Kennally Creek for a cleansing dip. That creek is way, way colder than Blackmare Lake was. Brrr! But it felt nice to sluice off and put on clean, dry clothes.

Back in no time!

After that, I relaxed in the car, watching motorcyclists go up the trail, and horseback riders ride out. Ambrose showed up about 90 minutes after I arrived and used our gallon water jugs to rinse off. We spoke briefly with some forest service personnel who didn’t even know that the Blackmare Lake No Trail existed. And then it was time to brave the holiday traffic and go get some food.

Only 90 minutes behind – not bad at all 😉

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