So this Saturday I went for my first S24O. I decided on Lake Lillian since it’s easily accessible and not too long of a hike (worried I’d aggravate my hurt foot). I packed more gear than I needed since I didn’t know what to expect at the elevation I was going to. I wanted to be able to fall back on plan B which was to hike back down to the car and to sleep in the parking lot.
I got a little turned around when the turn wasn’t where I thought it was but much further up the road. I’m getting old or maybe it was the fact that I haven’t been here in over six years. The road had one wash out and lots of pot holes. I made it through the narrow and ever shrinking road to the parking lot to find a blue VW Vanagon. As I looked closer I saw a guy with a redish beard and a black dog. It turns out it was my friend and co-worker Jeff, who had first taken me to the exact spot six years before. He had finished a clean up day at Apental and was camping for the night. He had planned to camp at the lake but like me has a injury. He only made it about half way before turning around.
We hung out a while and I decided to spend the night with him and Lilly the dog. The alpenglow was spectacular I’m sure up at the lake but it turned out to be completely covered in snow, so I was glad I stayed down in the parking lot. We threw the stick for Lilly and walked up the road a bit. Then it was time for me to set up my bivy sack, which Jeff had just showed me hours before how to use for the first time. Before we went to bed we got one game of Backgammon in. Jeff won.
I didn’t sleep very well. My stomach wasn’t right and I had gas. Not a good thing when your sleeping in a bivy sack. I was also sliding down into the bivy since I was on a slope. When I woke in the am it was 4:55 am and bright as hell. I rolled over and it was 6:15, then finally 7:10. Between the smell inside the bivy and the growing light I had to get up. My god was the air fresher outside the bivy. I can take a lot but I don’t know how I survived the night. Whew! You’d think with a mesh opening on the end the air would circulate.
I got dressed and made my way up the trail. I got off the trail at the very first snow patch and after 5minutes and some backtracking I found it. I crossed a small stream, one of two that you hike between the whole way. The left one gets bigger as you go up and has two nice waterfalls. There were a few tricky spot further up in the trees where I wasn’t sure where the tread went but I found it by just continuing up the slope. Once I got over the ridge it was 100% snow. The lake was about 90% still frozen and my path to the spot I had hoped to camp at was under water. I explored around the lake enjoying the beauty and headed back to the car.
The descent went fine until the very last bit and my foot started to hurt. Once back at the cars I found Jeff was still asleep. He wouldn’t get up for another half hour. We hung out and threw the stick some more for Lilly before leaving to fill up at the Pancake House at the pass.
I didn’t get to test out my S24O gear selection as I would have liked since I camped next to the car but I did get a good idea of the snow level in the mountains. I’ll probably go back in three weeks to see how it looks and do another S24O. The most important thing is I got to spend the night in my bag. That was the bigger goal of the weekend.
Trail review and video coming soon.