We woke ourselves up with the help of the camera’s alarm. I had managed to forget the altimeter/barometer with its alarm function so we tried the camera. It worked well enough if we kept it out of the case and near our heads. But it has no snooze function and will not repeat itself if you happen to miss its subtle chime.

Today’s plan was to get to Blackmare as quickly as possible, and, hopefully, without getting lost. But the first order of business was breakfast. The best dessert breakfast. Bananas Foster. Warm and sweet and banana-y. Perfect. I definitely want that breakfast again.

While we packed up, our neighbors emerged from their tent and we chatted. One of them was a hunter, planning to go to Blackmare Lake to check out its potential for hunting. The other seemed more like a backpacker. He had gotten about 40 miles onto a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail before an injury sidelined him.

Once I had the tent packed into its bag, I brought it over to them so they could feel the lightness of it. The expressions on their faces once they felt the less than 1 pound heft in their hands was priceless. I know I didn’t show the tent off well for them with my pitch, but I made it up by showing off the weight.

Heading out.

We headed out at about 8:15 and managed to cross the first stream without taking our boots off. And, at that point, I was off. I worked my way up to zoom speed even with the heavy burden of the food on my back.

Crossing the stream.

Again, the uphill sections seemed to last longer than I remembered. But, before too long, I came across a section full of huckleberry bushes. And, for once, the berries were purple and blue. I had a brief internal war. Did I hike on or did I stop to gather?

Has this section always been so uphill?

Wait a minute, are those…? 


The war didn’t last that long. I dropped my pack and pulled out the titanium cooking pot. I had a big grin on my face as I plucked the berries. Even the sight of the red side of the purple berries couldn’t stop me. So they’d be a little sour, I like sour.

It wasn’t long before Ambrose hiked up on me. I told him to go on while I kept on picking. I could have stayed there a long time. There were so many berries! But I settled for about a cup and then I hiked on to catch up with Ambrose.

Yum yum!

It took me longer than I thought it would to catch him. When I saw him, I started making sounds like a shark attack was coming. “Dun-nuh! Dun-nuh! Dun-nuh, dun-nuh, da-nuh, da-nuh, da-nuh.”

When I reached him, I grabbed him in a big hug and then kept zooming along.

And before too long I got to the Blackmare No Trail sign and settled down to wait for Ambrose and apply some bug juice. The mosquitoes were starting to stir, and I was not in the mood to get more bites like the Everly trip.

Ambrose walked up and took a break of his own at the sign. A large bird walked across the no trail far overhead and I had to point it out to Ambrose. Unfortunately, that meant he had to stand up, but it did get us going. And I was eager to start the first big climb of the day.

Ambrose at the no trail sign. 

The no trail seemed to be easier than in prior years. I hiked up without stopping in about 20 minutes and settled down to wait for Ambrose to catch up. We were going to stay pretty close together on this next leg of the journey.

Steep, yes, but not so bad. 

The top already? 

View from the top of the ridge (okay, almost the top). 

I led the way down around the ridge and then through the rocky section. I walked along, spotted the trail, and then waited for Ambrose. Then I did it all again. We were both moving at a good pace through this flatter section.

A downed tree on the trail coming around the ridge. 

This is trail. There’s cairns and everything. 

Ambrose approached the next saddle. 

And then, we moved uphill to another gentle ridge where Ambrose took pictures of me against the backdrop of the valley below. I saw more huckleberry bushes as we hiked, but none of them were ripe.

I let Ambrose have the camera again. 

Then we picked our way down around fallen trees and over yet more rocks. Before long, we reached the rocky traverse that led to the first unnamed lake. I continued to lead the way and bounded down to see the water. We’ve never stopped at that lake; it’s always looked too boggy for camping, but it is lovely. Maybe next year we can make that our first night’s stop.

Another new downed tree. 

After this flat spot, we have to go down again. 

Ambrose coming down to another ridge traverse. 

On down to the second lake where we took our lunch break. We sat together against a partly burned log in the shade. I tried a Bonk Breaker bar, peanut butter and jelly flavor. The taste wasn’t too bad, but the texture was very dry.

First view of the first lake. 

Another view of the first lake. 

We headed on to the next section with a good will. Ambrose led the way around the lake and down the trail to the very steep rocky section. This section always make me nervous, but I found myself feeling more confident on it. And, although I intended to have him remain in the lead, he was going very slowly and I went around him so I could get through it faster.

Lunch spot!

Going around the second lake. 

We’re almost all the way around the second lake. 

After that section, the trail continued to be very steep. We had to detour around another fallen tree blocking the trail, and I was very conscious of each step I took. I didn’t want to have another fall.

Ambrose going down the steep rocky section. 

I passed Ambrose on the steep rocks – with safety fun. 

I love these flowers. 

 Ambrose took the lead when we broke out onto the meadow and found the way down to the trickiest part of the trail. I was expecting there to be plenty of green flags to lead us through it. I’d left plenty of them, to an extent that I thought was perhaps a little excessive last year. But other than the one in the tree at the top of the meadow, there were none to be seen as we descended.

And even though I had the thought that we needed to go straight instead of turning left, we turned left, because that’s the way the trail seemed to be going.

We started to get ourselves lost.

And then Ambrose called it, before we’d hiked more than 5 minutes in the wrong direction. We turned upstream and went hunting for the trail. I was feeling a bit moody at our getting lost again.

Ambrose found a few of my flags on the ground, but I was sure someone had to have taken them down. Someone who doesn’t want other people to get to Blackmare Lake.

We joined the trail after a minimum of fuss and discovered that a huge tree had fallen along the stream. We would have to cross both the log and the stream. Quite an inconvenient direction for it to fall.

The trail is past this tree. And this stream. Which are inconveniently arranged with regards to each other and the trail. 

I clambered on top of the log and then went into a low squat to place my feet down onto the ground. Ambrose couldn’t mimic my movements, so he had to figure out a different way down. And then we knew we were on the trail. It was only a matter of time before we made it to Blackmare Lake.

There were no more big surprises on the trail. It was still a steep and bushy traverse up high through a bowl of rock. I waited for Ambrose at the place where two logs cross a ledge of rock. He’s fallen there before, and I wanted to be on hand for help and advice.

Ambrose making his way through the brushy trail.

I’m almost to the lake. 

I’m almost to the lake? 

After he made it safely up that puzzle, I left him behind and zipped up the trail to the lake. Even Ambrose managed to reach the lake by a quarter to 3, the fastest we’ve ever gotten there. The campsite at the end of the trail was empty and we settled in to enjoy the solitude and appreciate the fruits of our efforts.

It was nice not to have to rush to set up the tent and make dinner. We took our time. And, when I finally got around to pitching the tent, I made a great pitch.

The campsite is empty!

Look at that great pitch!

Good to see you, Blackmare Lake. 

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