Today was going to be an exploration day. The ideal goal was to summit Plummer Peak, but after the plan to summit Browns got derailed by snow I wasn’t keeping my hopes up too high.

We had a leisurely kind of morning, to an extent. We were still up pretty early, because making a summit attempt is a thing best started early. But I got to sleep in a little bit.

After breakfast, we got all packed up. This time Ambrose was also bringing a pack, but his trekking poles were holding up the tent, so he went without, even though I offered to give him one of mine for use.

Good Morning Everly!

Snow on the way to Plummer Lake.

I led the way, continuing around Everly Lake for a short distance before turning away from it to follow the trail over a pile of snow and through damp ground to Plummer Lake. The trail petered out close to the lake, so I started cutting around, climbing up to get a nice view before picking my way back down closer to the water.

Plummer Peak above Plummer Lake.

Another angle on Plummer Lake.

Continuing around the lake. 

I could see Plummer Peak, but I couldn’t see the route that Ambrose said we were taking. We stopped a couple times to try and see the route. Much of the slope retained snow, but our path was supposedly behind a ridge so it wasn’t visible.

As we made our way around the lake, I tried to take everything in. But then I got focused on not leading us into the lake rather than looking around and I walked right past a neon orange piece of debris. It couldn’t have been more than 10 feet away from me, but I just wasn’t looking in that direction. Ambrose had to call me back.

Where’s the route?

Yes, I walked right past it…

It as a weather balloon. The plastic balloon part of it looked practically new, shiny and pristine, but the rest of it showed weather damage. There was a styrofoam box that contained sensors, and it was intact, but the paper that was originally attached to it, that had had writing with the serial number, release location and release date was half degraded. I could see “Sept 27” and “KBOI” (a local news station), but nothing else was legible.

Instructions for sending it back.

The plastic return bag was in good shape though, so Ambrose and I packed it up in my pack for safekeeping. The sensors are recycled once they’re mailed back. It felt pretty wild to find such a thing in such a remote area, just lying at the side of a lake.

Once we crossed the outlet of Plummer lake, Ambrose took the lead, since he was the one who had read about the route to the peak. We hadn’t gone far before we ran into a horde of mosquitoes and had to stop for emergency bug juice application. I still got bit. I think I had more mosquito bites, more injuries on this trip than any other so far. I had one bite on my right ankle, one on my left calf, another on my right hip and another on the top of my head. Those first three got rubbed with every step when I wore a pack.

Crossing the outlet with a little judicious rock hopping.

Pretty little flowers near the water. 

After deploying our bug defenses, we continued, hiking up to try and find the ridge that we were supposed to get behind in order to gain an easy route to the summit. From Ambrose’s description, we should keep going up and then make a right turn, while our path never got too steep. Or maybe that last part was just my interpretation.

Looking back at Plummer Lake from a bit of height.

Heading up towards the peak.

We could see another, smaller, unnamed lake in front of us and there was no convenient ridge to the left where it was supposed to be. So we went up anyway, picking our way around piles of snow and over large boulders. Then we came to a point where the way forward wasn’t clear.

It’s just a little snow.

I wanted to explore and try going straight up towards the peak. Ambrose thought a better route would be more to the right, trying to get behind the ridge. I agreed to explore his way, even though the route was extremely steep.

It wasn’t hard for me to go up it. Well, not very hard. But I knew I’d have to come back down and that made my stomach clench.

But the view from the top was worth the climb up and the climb down.

I took a few minutes in silent contemplation, drinking in the mountains in the distance, the small lake to my left and the larger lake to my right.

The little lake.

What seemed to be the route up.

Mount Everly in the distance.

The path up was another steep climb through a field of grass and boulders and I just didn’t like the feel of it. It didn’t seem like the right way to go. I took pictures and started to head back down, only to find Ambrose on his way up because I hadn’t checked in.

I told him to go back, because I didn’t want to stay up there. I made my way down slowly, chanting a monotonous variation of the hokey-pokey to myself to stay calm. “You put your right foot down. You put your left foot down. You put your right foot down…”

Looking over the little lake from my high point.

The way down was very steep. Also there’s an Ambrose in this picture.

I made it back to Ambrose and described the terrain above. And I called it. I didn’t feel like we were on a good route, and there was no way to tell how much more snow there might be coming. I didn’t feel safe continuing. He respected my call.

We stopped to eat lunch before going back down, resting on some rocks in the sun and taking in the scenery.

Then we went back down. I took some pictures from a high rock above Plummer, and Ambrose even took some pictures of me in front of the lake.

Going down cross country.

Mount Everly and Plummer Lake. 

Ambrose gets the camera above Plummer Lake.

We gathered the rest of the weather balloon when we passed it again, because I didn’t want to leave it as litter. Ambrose thought it would biodegrade, but I wasn’t so sure. I erred on the side of caution and promised that I would be the one to pack it out.

After we passed the weather balloon, the hordes of mosquitoes returned. It seemed like every time I brushed past an evergreen, swarms of skeeters flew out. I could practically see the cloud of them surrounding me. Even with plentiful bug juice on my skin, they got in my face and I almost inhaled one or two the clouds were so thick.

A different rock hop to recross the outlet.

Ambrose fleeing the mosquitoes of Plummer Lake.

I couldn’t get away from Plummer Lake fast enough. They should rename it “Mosquito Lake” and I’m glad we weren’t camping at it. Ambrose had a hip issue as we left the lake, and I finally convinced him to take a trekking pole for about the last five minutes of our day hike.

Tent sweet tent.

When we got back to camp, we relaxed. The sun was playing hide and seek with fast moving banks of clouds. I wanted the sun to come out and stay out, but it just wasn’t happening so I decided that I wouldn’t wait.

I was going to continue my tradition of submerging myself in mountain lakes.

I got my shampoo out so I could wash my hair after it was wet and grabbed my towel. Then I marched down to the water wearing my sandal shoes, Ambrose in tow with the camera for proof. The sun was still hiding, but I was done waiting. I stepped out onto a rock while Ambrose watched from above and I stripped down to my underwear.

I approach the lake.

The water was cold from the first step. I had to force myself to keep going deeper until I was about thigh deep. And then, after several deep breaths and false starts, I submerged.

Nerving myself for the dip…

I’m rather proud that I didn’t scream. Though that might have been because the cold water took my breath away. I managed to dunk myself twice before giving up and getting out of there.

I dried off with my little towel standing on a rock and then traded sopping wet underwear for dry pants and shirt. That helped a lot. And then I scrambled back up to the campsite and the pile of rocks we’ve been using as a windbreak for the stove. That was a safe distance away from the water to wash and rinse my hair.

After that I retreated to the tent to warm and dry up. I got my writing done and did some reading while Ambrose did other things outside the tent. We spend a lot of time together on these trips, but not every minute of every day. Just enough time.

I stayed up late and tried to catch the alpenglow. I even braved the evening horde of mosquitoes to try for a nice shot. But I had to answer a call of nature as quickly as possible to try and avoid skeeters finding any of my briefly exposed sensitive areas. And the photography was forgotten in my rush to get back to the safety of the tent.

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