With Labor Day fast approaching
and the weather promising to be summerlike for the first
time in weeks, Yumi and I decided to hit the Porkies for
the 2nd time in a month. Our
first trip to the "Porkies" was spent apart.
This time we wanted to be together for a while and get back
We left Manitowoc
at about 930 AM Saturday and, after taking a wrong turn
en route, arrived at the Wilderness Visitor Center by 4
PM EST. This didn't worry me as I knew we'd have an extra
hour of daylight and we only would do 5 miles before camping
somewhere near Government Peak. After getting our permit
and paying our fee we drove up to the Government Peak Trailhead.
The lot was full necessitating our parking on the road shoulder.
far as I can tell, this loop covered about
15 miles of easy hiking. The walk along
the rim of the Escarpment would have been
more enjoyable had the weather cooperated,
but it was still an experience.
water near Government Peak is impossible
unless you're getting rained on so plan
around this if you decide to camp up there.
We began our
hike with a short uphill climb which, in the high humidity,
started the sweat flowing. It didn't take long to realize
it was going to be soaked by the time we made it to Government
Peak. It also didn't take long to figure out that the warm
weather they'd been having for the past week had hatched
another generation of mosquitos. This was not a good thing
The hike roughly
followed the Upper Carp river for about 2.5 miles before
coming to the first two camp sites. Both were full and I
started thinking that we might need to make our own site
if the park was as crowded as the girl at the Visitor Center
had said. In about 20 minutes we came to the surprisingly
beautiful Trap Falls. We paused just long enough to get
a picture and moved on. In a few more minutes we came to
the Lost Lake Trail junction. Here we turned due west and
continued toward Government Peak. The trail here was particularly
muddy and full of newborn mosquitos. I cursed myself for
not bringing the bug dope for Yumi's sake. I was getting
bit, but didn't react to them. Yumi, however, was starting
towelt and puff up from every bite.
We came to a
place on the map which looked like a small pond. Instead,
it was a mosquito-breeding hotbed with no access due to
the mucky shoreline. No chance of getting water here without
getting wet, muddy feet. There was a campsite near the shore,
but we vetoed this one in favor of one without skeeters.
We began the "climb" up the peak. After doing
Stoney Indian, Redgap and Dawson passes in Glacier, this
was a piece of cake. We met a couple of early 20-somethings
on the way up and they told us about a great site at the
summit of. Obviously there would be no water up there so
we'd have to alter our dining plans for dinner, but it sounded
good. There might even be a nice breeze up there to keep
the bugs away. After about 5 minutes of leisurely climbing
we were at the summit.
|Yumi posing at Government Peak
We set up camp
at the top but moved to another site about 40 yards that
gave us a semi-view of the the park to the west and a little
more wind. I took off my sweat-soaked shirt and put on my
fleece. It was about 75 degrees out and I wondered what
had prompted me to take it along in the first place. We
ate our dinner on the steps of what was once a fire tower.
All that remained now were the four footings and the steps.
I ate a couple of peanut butter and jelly bagels while Yumi
also ate one and topped it off with a pouch of Chicken of
the Sea precooked shrimp. The shrimp was to go in our Thai
noodles, but the lack of water killed that idea. Tomorrow
night we'd eat a hot dinner.
Not wanting to bother with a fire, we
retired to the tent. We were a little tired from the 6 mile
sprint up to the peak and just wanted to relax. It's amazing
how quickly one can lose their fitness level after a little
more than a month and we both wondered how we managed our
Glacier trip. It was still warm so I didn't bother putting
the fly on the tent. Still too warm, I stripped down to
my undies and spread out on my thermarest. The wind was
starting to pick up a little bit cooling things off a little
but I still fell asleep without climbing into my sleeping
bag, and wouldn't for the duration of the night. This either
amused or amazed Yumi who was snuggled deep into her bag.
We awoke the next morning to cloudy skies
and wind. We quickly determined that we would probably hike
out instead of camping at the Lake of the Clouds. We don't
mind hiking or camping in the rain, but would rather do
it amidst more spectacular scenery that what we were getting
here. Yeah, we were spoiled on the Glacier trip, no doubt
about it, but Yumi also had schoolwork that needed to get
done. Better to do it on the kitchen table than in the truck
on the way home. We quickly broke camp and ate more peanut
butter bagels and water. We hit the trail by 830 AM and
began our descent of Government Peak. We startled a large
doe about 30 feet head of us which in turn scared us. We
decided we needed to make more noise lest we scare a blackie
the next time. The walk through the woods was uneventful
and lacking scenery. The highlight was heading north up
the Mirror Lake trail and the descent to Scott's Creek where
we were able to filter some water for the remainder of the
hike. We started the day with a full one liter bottle and
about 2 cups still left in my bladder and this was almost
gone by the time we got to the creek.
Just as we were finished filtering the
water it started to sprinkle a little but not too badly.
We met a father, his dog and two younger kids heading toward
Mirror lake. It looked like they were having fun despite
the sprinkles and wished Todd and Matt had decided to come
along. In about a half hour we came to the bridge leading
across the Big Carp near the western shore of the Lake of
the Clouds. Here we met a group of about 8 college-aged
kids breaking their camp at the Lake. Oh to be that young
again. They were also heading to Mirror Lake and just for
a second I thought about asking Yumi if she wanted to head
that way as well, but quickly extinguished that thought.
on the Escarpment Trail fighting the 50 mph winds and
light rain. She said she didn't like it, but I don't
We crossed the bridge and began what
I thought would be a killer climb to the top of the escarpment.
As it turned out this was nothing to worry about. When we
got to the top the wind was blowing like a mother. The entire
hike along the escarpment was a battle against the wind
and blowing rain. Several times I was knocked off balance
by the wind. Yumi was actually knocked down a few times
by the 50 mph gusts. The scenery, however was outstanding.
We were afforded a view of the Lake and the valleys east
and west. We even saw a black bear crossing the Upper Carp
over a log from a great distance. Finally, the trail began
to descend back down towards M-107 and the trailhead. This
was a real knee-burner for me and I longed for my trekking
poles for this stretch. By 11:45 AM we were back at the
truck where I stripped off my soaked T-shirt and tried to
dry off. We had done about 9.5 miles in a little over 4
We drove back down to the visitor Center
for a partial refund, spent some time looking at their exhibits
and drove back to Silver City for a bite to eat at the Foothills
restaurant. We sped back home in record time, took showers
and watched The Green Mile before falling asleep. In all
we spend less than 20 hours in the park, but had covered
almost 16 miles on the trail. Yumi suffered about 50 skeeter
bites and my knees were aching. I'm glad we went as it will
probably be the last time we get out this year because of
Yumi's school and the boys soccer starting up again. So
until next Summer's Rocky Mountain National Park trip and
the Glacier 2005 Summer Tour, the gear will be put away.