Total Miles: 524.2
Dryness: the ultimate luxury. Something you often only truly appreciate in its absence. Such has it been the past several mornings, waking to gear that all had a superficial dampness to it. Not the kind of moisture you'd expect from rain, but the kind that comes with the settling of cool damp air overnight. Not enough to condense, just enough to give everything that feeling of unpleasant clamminess. Combined with the morning chill, it exacerbates the sense of cold and promises to ensure the feeling lingers longer than usual.
The highlight reel of scenery wasted no time lighting up the big screen, as the morning hours found us on a lengthy ascent to the next big saddle of Lake Ann Pass.
Climbing up into a beautiful morning as the sun awoke the higher slopes, we passed a number of folks who were emerging from their tents or already joining us in the ever-upward slog. Dotting the shore and rocky shelves above Lake Ann were tents of orange, blue, green, and gray that looked like a scattered display of colored lights as they gradually shrunk away beneath us.
When the last of the trees and greenery had vanished, all that was left above was a looming snow cornice, stone and a sky full of cottony clouds and a series of switchbacks leading us to them.
As imposing as it might appear, the north facing cornice was actually pretty modest in size at least by comparison to what it must be a month earlier when it would be imposing indeed. A handful of steps later, it was behind us and the view both before us and back to where we'd come from unfolded in full color. On that small saddle, we could just have easily been on a pass in the High Sierra, so striking was the similarity.
The high point of the day behind us, some confused weather began during the descent when thunderheads began to bump into one another hours before their usual arrival time. Barely 10:30am and they were already doing a sound check as if preparing for a rapidly approaching main stage performance. But the build up was all for naught—as the thunder rolled ahead of and behind us, the rains never came and the sound of thunder was quickly replaced by the surprising sound of ATVs. Having exited the wilderness area a few miles below the pass, we now shared trail with our two-wheeled friends that were less kind to the trail bed than our sandals and sneakers.
If not for the ATV-ers, it would have been particularly silent, Lake Ann Pass serving as a line of demarcation beyond which the day and weekend traffic didn't care to venture. And if we thought we'd be spared from our daily shower, that notion was quickly dispelled as we stopped for dinner and contemplated whether to press on for a few more miles. As the weather blew in and interrupted our dinner, the temperature dropped and the decision to call this home for the night was made for us. An hour later, the sky had changed its fickle mind yet again leaving only the call and answer sound of dueling woodpeckers and the soft hooting of an owl to rock us to sleep.
Latitude/Longitude: 38.84680, -106.39372