We slept relatively late. Well, I slept late. Ambrose was up before me, but he let me sleep a bit extra to give his clothes extra time to dry. He wasn’t looking forward to putting on wet clothes for some reason.

We had granola for breakfast, the Mountain House kind that comes with dehydrated milk. And I discovered, again, that it isn’t just that milk products make my digestive system uncomfortable. I really don’t like the taste of milk. Ice cream? Yes, please. Cheese? Sure. But straight up milk? Blech. But since I needed the food, I buckled down and ate it all.

Typically, one of my morning chores is the deflation and storage of the sleeping pads. This morning, as I rolled them up, I noticed just how many rocks we were actually sleeping on top of. It speaks well for our pads that we didn’t notice them while we were sleeping.

What with the trouble Ambrose had had at the second stream crossing, I didn’t get a picture of it. So I decided to take a few moments to backtrack and snap a few shots. There was also a really neat fallen tree that, from a certain angle, looked like it was a precariously balanced sculpture.

A surprisingly comfortable bed. 

Wilderness sculpture. 

The stream that pulled Ambrose down. 

He started to get pulled downstream before he picked himself up.

Then it was time to start heading up to Pats Lake. I figured we would take about four hours to get up there, based on last year’s trip and yesterday’s pace. I decided to continue doing a zoom and wait method of hiking, but I would try not to get too far ahead of Ambrose.

Aw, the sign fell down.

I caught up to the sun. 

The long, bushy switchbacks didn’t take too long at my pace. I pushed on until I reached the point where the trail turned east and I reached the sun. I might have gone a little further, but I had an urgent call of nature to answer and pretty much dumped my pack as soon as I figured I was far enough.

I sat on a convenient tree root on the side of the trail while I waited. The sun was just cresting the ridge, painting the mountains opposite with sparkling color.

Good morning!

When Ambrose arrived, I offered him the seat.

That’s when the bear-anoia kicked in.

He swore (probably still swears) that he saw a bear, nay, a bear and some cubs, making their way down on the other side of Johnson Creek. I looked, looked again, looked again. Nothing. I saw no motion that couldn’t be explained by wind. He tried to take a picture, but maximum zoom is tricky with practice and he hasn’t had much of that. (Okay, maybe I hog the camera.)

So we hiked on, he convinced there was a bear, and I convinced there was none.

Morning waterfall.

I raced ahead, smiling as I encountered the false hope water crossings where the trail switchbacked oh so close to water and then turned away. I navigated a large fallen log in the trail and then paused at the stream that flowed over the trail. Last year when we came to this point, I think we did boots off, just in case. This year, I decided to drop my pack and scout to see if we should do boots on or off.

By shoving through some bushes and stepping carefully on rocks, I believed we could do it boots on, so I settled down to wait for Ambrose to arrive. We crossed together, with me leading this time, and then kept going. Our next meeting point would be just before the next crossing of Johnson Creek, the meadow.

It actually wasn’t very far to the meadow, so we arrived quickly and made our way to the crossing. Not necessarily on the trail, since the reason we agreed to meet there was that it was easy to lose the trail. But we could see the trail on the other side of the creek and that helped us orient.

The first boots off crossing of the morning. 

After crossing, I agreed to do more rest stops so that Ambrose wouldn’t get as far behind me. We were coming on to steeper territory and I wanted to be sure he was making it alright. And it’s a good thing I did.

I waited for him from a nice log perch and then got up when he was about ten yards away, intending to head farther up before waiting again. But he called out, “Wait!” and I turned back.

Ambrose just had all the luck this trip. He managed to torque his knee and had to limp to my sitting log and evaluate. I, of course, dropped my pack and asked him what he needed. Then, when he said he didn’t need anything, I dug a bandage wrap out of my first aid kit and wrapped it around his leg, just under the knee, to help stabilize it. He, of course, thanked me once it was done.

Keeping an eye on Ambrose and admiring the snow. 

At this point, I didn’t want him out of my sight, so I throttled back my speed and insisted that he lead. We weren’t all that far from Pats Lake by my reckoning, so I figured camping on the spot wouldn’t make sense even if I could convince him to stop. We moved on. I stayed cheerful and positive, because it felt better for me to do so, and because I believed that attitude would be the best thing for our trip.

Almost made it to Pats.

This kind of looks like a false morel. 

The next crossing was navigable by log, but Ambrose opted to do boots off instead, not trusting his balance with a bum knee. I took the log. Then we passed by one of the more beautiful waterfalls on our route, a rock hop crossing, and then the trail turned up Johnson Creek and I knew we were close. I urged Ambrose along and then it was in front of us. The last crossing of Johnson Creek.

After I crossed, I put my boots back on and struck out for Pats. I had scouted the lake a bit last year and knew there was an adequate camping site right off the trail, but I wanted to verify it was still there, and unoccupied, before leading Ambrose there.

I made it!

And so did Ambrose!

It was indeed there and unoccupied. I found a route that didn’t involve stepping over any logs and led Ambrose to the lake. My route also passed by a small pile of snow, which I scooped up after lunch to ice his knee.

For the rest of the afternoon we just relaxed by the lake. I explored a bit around the lake for other campsites and saw a fish in the clear water. Ambrose pointed out a notch above the lake that he’d like to hike to “just to take a look.” We ate a whole bag of jerky in one sitting. I made use of the soap I brought and washed my hair and face, decadently using the stove to heat water instead of using cold.

It was a nice, relaxing afternoon, but I knew that the likelihood of completing the journey on our itinerary was low with Ambrose’s injury. The question was how much of a truncation were we facing?

Another view of Pats Lake. 

Yeah, Ambrose thinks we should climb up there…

I think the view from here is enough for me. 

I found a fish!

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