We got up fairly early to make the most of the early morning coolness as we hiked out from Johnson Lake and rejoined the Queens River Trail up to Pats Lake. This was going to be one of our longer days since we needed to go down and then regain almost all the elevation we were losing.

I had had a headache the day before, and Ambrose suggested that we could turn back. I promised to let him know if it came back, but on this morning it was gone. Ambrose, however, didn’t end up feeling so well. He’s decided he no longer will drink sodas on the drive up to backpacking trips – and I’m going to hold him to that. Hopefully it will work out.

The day ended up being pretty hot, which I welcomed since it is must easier to walk through streams and get my shoes and socks all wet when it’s warm out. We camped at the first spot at Pats Lake and spent the afternoon chilling out and enjoying the sounds of the wilderness.

Lovely Johnson lake in the morning.

The sun striking the ridge over Johnson.

There’s Ambrose, going off ahead of me again.

I started trying using the Digital Microscope setting on my camera on the flowers, especially the tiny ones.

Making our way back to the main trail. 
The morning was pretty cool, especially before the sun got high enough to shine above the ridge.

There were still a good number of downed trees on the trail.

But also evidence of trail maintenance. There used to be a large log blocking this bridge. 

Unfortunately, even with the maintenance, we still ran into some rather large downed trees.

Like this one Ambrose is wiggling under.

The crossing of Johnson Creek was a bit different this year. 

Fallen trees made us take a different line across, and there was a big deep spot on that line.

Ambrose took his time on this crossing, and managed not to fall. 

It was good to see everything so green and growing.

But there was a part of the trail that went directly through the bushes. This is the trail, no joke, for about a dozen yards. If I didn’t know where I was supposed to be going, I might have gotten pretty lost.

Time to start the switchbacks up.

The fallen tree trend continued up the switchbacks. At several places, we followed go-arounds, but this tree, featuring a magnificent spider web, stumped me. I tried going around it and ran into thick brush, so I sat on a rock and waited for Ambrose to catch up so we could find the trail together. And, as he walked up I glanced to my right and realized the go-around was in the opposite direction that I’d been looking for it.

We made it past the first round of switchbacks, but our climbing was not done for the day.

Ambrose was having a bit of a hard time. We stopped for lunch when we found some meager shade instead of waiting until the next good water crossing. He finally told me he wasn’t feeling well, and I went into care-taking mode. I didn’t range as far ahead, and I made sure he was drinking plenty of water.

Some years, there’s a lot of water in this stream. Not this year.

We lost the trail again before the crossing, but it didn’t take too long to find it because we were familiar with losing the trail near there.

I walked across and got my shoes and socks wet for the cooling effect while Ambrose went across on a log, and then stopped to wet his hat.

It’s like two trees fell down for every one that got cut away from the trail.

I tried to imagine what this bowl looked like before the fire came through and left all these tree skeletons.

More pretty flowers.

The waterfall! 
Beautiful flowers below the waterfall at the crossing. I didn’t need to get my feet wet, but I did so I could keep cool. This day got hot.

I love the purple monkey flowers. 

Those bushes are growing like crazy along the trail here, too.

A bridge of sorts across the muddy boggy section.

The skies were looking cloudy, but this bird insisted on posing for me before the storm.

The last crossing of Johnson Creek of the day – on the one before this, I actually got into the creek and let Ambrose use my shoulder to help him cross on a rather narrow log. This one we were able to rock hop.

We made it!

At first, I thought someone had shoved trash into this poor tree.

Instead, it was a Chick Tract in a baggie. I really wish whoever was leaving these up at Pats Lake would stop. It’s not LNT to leave anything up there. 

And this fire ring really shouldn’t be there, since in the Sawtooth Wilderness, fires should only be in fire pans or on fire blankets. 

But the lake was still gorgeous. I got in it to try and get the gunk out of my shoes, but that didn’t work very well because there was a lot of gunk stepping in and out. 

I didn’t see any fish, but I might have scared them away with splashings.

Ambrose chilling out now that we made it.

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