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May 3, 2006

Mason Lake

With J still down with a stomach bug, and the others out of town, K and I set off on Saturday to do Mt. Defiance. Unfortunately, because we got confused as to which parking lot to start from, we ended up taking a much longer route just to get to the base of the mountain. The route we should have taken was already going to be a 13-14 mile round trip, gaining about the same as Granite last week. However, our error meant that we spent a rather long time just trying to get to where the Defiance route branches from the Mason Lake trail. So long, in fact, that we just said to heck with it and turned around. (We estimate that we hiked about 6-7 miles out before we turned around, thus making our total distance covered close to the original intention, but with only 2,300 ft elevation gain instead of 3,600+.)

The positives that came out of this were that we pretty much felt totally at ease with a fairly fast pace, even with our packs. We are definitely starting to get fit from all this. Another nice thing I noticed was that during a number of stream crossings, I was able to maintain my balance pretty well, even with the pack. And again along the fitness thing, I have to say that it's pretty amazing that we pretty much nonchalantly did a 12-14 mile hike with 40 lbs. on our backs, gaining and then losing 2,300 ft of elevation. I wouldn't say we didn't break a sweat, but we handled it easily.

The training aspect aside, though, the best part about this hike was that even though we didn't do what we set out to do, there was no disappointment at the end. The view we had of Mason Lake from the lookout where we ultimately ate lunch and then turned around was spectacular. The lake was still mostly frozen over, with a line of melted water at the edge. From that view we could also see storm clouds moving in way off in the distance, and not more than a few minutes down the road after we got back to the car, the rain let loose. Man, I was glad we got in ahead of that!

Well, with the weather starting to look nicer and nicer I may venture to take the Nikon out there soon, so I can put some pictures with all these words I'm saying. That's what you're all really waiting for, I know....