Day 141: Lakes, Ponds, and Muddy Pits
Wednesday, August 8, 2018 8:11 pm
Location: Island Lake (1946.4 miles)

I woke up to a warm morning with a nice breeze blowing over Charlton Lake. The sun rose from behind the lake, the distant smoke tinting the sun more orange, and it almost looked more like a sunset than a sunrise.

Sunrise over Charlton Lake
Sunrise over Charlton Lake

As expected, Sparkles and Hannah’s pancakes were excellent, and were a great way to start the morning. Not that I’m complaining, but it also delayed my start somewhat, and I didn’t get on the trail until after 8:30.

I had been considering a 27.4 mile day to Elk Lake Resort, but thanks to the trail magic yesterday and today, that seems entirely unnecessary now; I have an extra day’s worth of food, and, I’d rather eat my food down when I have so much of it, instead of paying for food at a resort near the trail that is likely to be expensive.

As I hiked away from the lake, the breeze stopped, and the warmer temperature was quite noticeable, especially as the trail entered an exposed burn area for several miles. While going through the burn area, I found a hollowed-out tree stump had been taken over by a flowering plant, using it as a sort of natural flower pot.

After leaving the burn area, the trail passed by quite a few more lakes this morning. Though the forest cover and shade helped keep it cooler, the temperature continued to rise, and a very light breeze blew that didn’t do much to mediate the warmer weather.

A bit after 1, I stopped for dinner at Stormy Lake, where a pair of USFS rangers were on their way out after finishing some trail maintenance. In the shade, and with a nice breeze blowing, it was quite a comfortable break, and I managed to be more efficient about it than usual, getting back on the trail less than two hours after I got there.

Stormy Lake
Stormy Lake

As the trail continued, it wound around a large number of small ponds, many of them were in the process of drying out. Some were barely more than damp mud-lined depressions. Others still had enough water to support lily pads.

For the first time on the trail, I saw some of the original Pacific Crest Trail System signs. They’d all been attached to their trees for so long that tree bark had grown over them, and it wasn’t until the third or fourth one that I realized what it was I had been seeing.

Pacific Crest Trail System Diamond
Pacific Crest Trail System Diamond

I took a break at South Lake to replenish my water. It was intended to be a pretty short break, but I wound up there over an hour. The lake bottom was very silty, and my feet sunk into the mud, making it difficult to get into deep enough water to easily fill my water bag. I was also a lot more tired than I was expecting to be, probably because of the heat, but also because I was carrying more weight from food than anytime since I left the Sierra. My feet also hurt, likely because of the weight as well. I shortened how far I was planning on going, from about 25 miles to about 23 miles, and even that didn’t seem likely when I left the lake around 6:30.

South Lake
South Lake

I stopped short of even that goal, “only” going 21.3 miles to Island Lake, setting up camp around 8 pm. By that point, it was starting to cool down a bit, though it was noticeably more humid than it had been earlier in the day. By that point, I was fairly certain that the heat and weight was what was slowing me down, since the terrain was otherwise fairly nice.