We woke up to the sound of mosquitos but took our time deconstructing camp. It was delicious having no concept of time. Note to all who hike with a dog: a two person tent becomes pretty tight with two full sized adults and a 35 lb dog! After a leisurely camp pack up, we continue to head up the trail, crossing a beautiful alpine valley.
Taking a couple minutes to check out an abandoned mine, my camera’s flash showed the deep hole that all of us almost walked into. Oops!
We crested Geneva Pass (10400 ft) and I hiked up to get a good view of the surrounding area. Wow! I had forgotten how much I love being at elevation, my body seemed to have endless energy- I wanted to keep bounding up all of the side hills to see what was on the other side. No disappointment there!
We spent the night at Lake Eunice where I worked on my fishing technique.
Neko was finally worn out, and we worried she might have overdone it as it was her first backpacking trip! She was limping all afternoon and wasn’t interested in playing her favorite stick or ball games. We started brainstorming ideas of how to pack her out and what we would need to ditch if she wasn’t feeling better by morning! It was a restless night, but we awoke to the warm sunlight trying to pierce through the tent’s heavy fabric. Another backpacker stopped in for a chat and Neko sprang to action for a game of stick. The little hound had completely fooled us and garnered hours of sympathy (and extra treats); we both felt silly for being such overprotective parents! After packing up, we choose to cross country to a beautiful little tarn for our last night in the mountains. More amazing views of Blacktooth, spongy marshes, and Neko was thrilled to find some snow to roll around in.
We arrived at the tarn with plenty of time to spare and vegged out for the rest of the afternoon, after all it was our last night before heading back to the real world.
Away! After a challenging couple of weeks, packing up my Mystery Ranch pack with everything needed for backpacking for 4 days was no chore. My brain and life had been coming dangerously close to spiraling out of control so when D suggested a couple days of just us, Neko, and the mountains, I rearranged my schedule. (I am fortunate that I have great bosses who allow me flexibility during an extremely busy part of our year.)
Monday night D and Neko came to Lovell and we sorted food and loaded packs with all the necessary pieces of a successful pack trip (almond m&ms!). After an afternoon tour for a school group at work on Tuesday, we threw everything into the cab of the Toyota and headed up the mountain.
We spent Tuesday night at Park Reservoir, a popular camping location in the Bighorn Mountains. We didn’t even set up the tent, just threw down our sleeping pads in the back of the Toyota and watched the stars until we fell asleep.
Wednesday morning it was down a 4-wheel drive road to the Coffeen Park trailhead. Strapped on the packs and realized it had been awhile (4 years?!) since either of us hoisted a full pack! We buckled down and went off down the trail. The first part of the trail goes through a nice lodgepole pine forest, alongside a creek. 4 miles up and we were upon Lake Geneva, a popular first night’s camp spot.
This was not to be our destination, a couple more switchbacks and another 2 miles up the trail was Crystal Lake.
Set up camp at Crystal Lake and I got down to learning to fish…after all I had just spend $104 on an out of state fishing license! D showed me how to use the pole and set me at trying to catch a fish. Meanwhile, he and Neko played stick and swam. Call it beginner’s luck, but we had fish for dinner.