Sunday, October 3, 2010

Corbett Lake October 2, 2010

Stats: 6 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet (we think)
Attendance: Dad (Mike), me and Mocha

I realize that this year’s hiking season has been a lot of repeat hikes but just as many new hikes. It is great to live near such a wealth of wonderful hikes and National Parks and coast lines.
My dad wanted to get another hike in before he and a group of his friends attempted Mount Whitney next weekend. Despite the fact that said thunder storms and 30% chance of rain, we hopped into the jeep and drove up to an old favorite of our. Corbett Lake. It is up the Kaiser Pass Road not quite to Florence Lake and definitely in the wilderness area. It is a great little place that not many people know about. We usually backpack up to the lake at the end of August but last year we replaced the trip with a weekend at Dinkey Creek with the Ocheltrees, and this year we weren’t planning it at all. I thought it was nice to actually squeeze it in this year. It was strange to go up with only a day pack on, but nice too. I should also mention that this is the same trail I broke my leg on 4 years ago and had to hike 1.5 miles out with a tree branch, 2 Advil and my dad carrying my pack.
The trail starts with a gradual ascent through the woods and across a granite field at 8,000 feet. From there you get to the switchbacks, which is really the worst part of the trail. You just go up and up and up. Once you reach the top of those switchbacks you enter the John Muir Wilderness area and pass through a wonderful little meadow. This time of the year the ferns were starting to turn a lovely shade of yellow and there were no mosquitoes which is a huge problem in the summer. My dad’s plan the whole way was to book it up the trail and then double back to me and repeat so that he could get some extra miles in there. Unfortunately this did not work out for him so well. The first time he turned around he seemed a little surprised to see me but we continued on. The second time he turned around he said that he hadn’t had to come back that far. And I thought that was most excellent, because I was feeling really good on the hike and the main reason I kept stopping was for oxygen not to rest my legs. We reached the top in what felt like no time and Mocha loved the lake time that she got, psycho water dog that she is. I beat my normal hike time on this trail by 40 minutes, maybe more, but we forgot to check the time when we left.
The whole time we had been hiking up the clouds had been gathering and then getting darker. Once we reached the top the wind started up and it was cold. We ate some lunch at one of the camp sites up there. So after not being there for very long I suggested we head back. We threw the stick for Mocha a few more times and then we were off back down the trail. It did not take us very long to get back. The sky continued to get darker and we definitely kept a very good pace going downhill. When we reached the granite field ½ mile from the end, the thunder and lightning started and a few drops of rain. Having just read “Shattered Air” I knew that granite is not what I wanted to be standing on when the lightning hit. We really picked up the pace from a fast hike to a brisk walk. We reached the end of the trail and the Jeep quickly and piled in. Mocha had not had anything to drink since we left the lake so my dad stopped by the stream near the campsites/road to let her drink. Right after they were done they piled in the car and we got no further than 2 feet and the heavens opened up and the storm when crazy. Unfortunately for us my dad had not had time to switch to the hard top on the Jeep so it was a very wet inside the Jeep. Poor Mocha was totally freaking out in the back because she was getting soaked and thunder is not her friend. At one point I saw a flash of lightning right in front of us and just as I opened my mouth to say, that was close, the thunder rolled. So I really did comment “That was close!” Hail started as we rounded the mountain and the landscape turned white from the amount of hail. Poor Mocha getting pelted in the back eventually shimmied her way into my lap on a very dangerous part of the road. So I held on to her for a bit while she shook with terror on my lap. We passed many campsites of the hunters that were up there. And a few sad people with canoes strapped to the top of their cars headed for Edison Lake. We eventually got down and out of the storm not too worse for wear. And I commented that nature was letting us know that summer was over. I thought that was very appropriate after our usual end of summer hike to Corbett Lake.
We didn’t take any pictures on this hike, sorry, you’ll just have to visualize the storm for yourself.

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