*Note: elevations are taken from the GPS, distances are taken from National Geographic maps*
Day 1 (2016/08/20)
Start: McGee Creek Trailhead, 8,130 feet
Distance: 5 miles
End: Steelhead Lake Junction, 9,450 feet
So, between car rentals and forgetting some poles, we got a very late (somewhat expected) start on our first day. And then once we got started I was not moving quickly. The first mile was hard, the sun was beating down hard, but it could have also been the altitude too; I was feeling really lightheaded and a little nauseated. After stopping a couple times I actually needed to sit down and then one time I threw up. The good news is I felt better after! We kept walking, slowly, Greg had to be patient with me, but I was 45 pounds heavier and I wasn’t taking to it very well.
The views were absolutely stunning. We couldn’t get over where we were, and it definitely made the difficult walking worthwhile. We passed quite a few day hikers on their way out; one nice couple asked us where we were headed and when we told him McGee Lake, the man told us we were about 5.5 miles away. Because it was over 8 miles from McGee Creek Trailhead. What?! I was a little bit in denial and I had been trying to convince myself that Greg’s GPS “as the crow flies” distance was closer to reality than I knew it was.
The next person we met was a really friendly guy who took our picture (twice – one on our camera, then one on his). We chatted with him a bit, he was clearly the real deal, he told us he was a trail runner and had a book coming out next year The Summit Runner. Look out for it – maybe you’ll see our faces 😉
It started raining ever so slightly, giant raindrops but not much. I was extremely paranoid about our stuff getting wet and staying wet for the whole trip so I suggested we put on the rain covers and I put on my jacket. About 20 minutes of overheated walking in jackets, we reached the beautiful beaver pond that everyone had been talking about! We (I) used it as an excuse to stop. We took off the rain gear, since it never actually rained. And Greg fed me chocolate and I accepted that we could walk for another 50ish minutes. I had to take a mini break every 10 minutes and at some point I sat down on a rock and suggested maybe we should stop sooner. Greg drops his pack, and then walks up from the trail and finds the perfect campsite! I simply could not refuse 😉
The campsite was in a small clearing, there was a fire pit with a little cooking spot (no, we did not have a fire), a stream nearby, and a nice sandy spot for the tent. We started setting up the tent right away and then got to dinner. It was dark by the time we finished up our gourmet rice and beans. We had to go down a rock ramp to the stream in the dark to wash the dishes. It was a good thing that Greg suggested we put a light next to our campsite, the water wasn’t that close and maybe I’m being dramatic but it did make it easier to find our way back. We brushed our teeth while staring up at the stars through a window in the clouds, hid the canisters, and were cozied up in our sleeping bags by 9:30.
Where are we?!