Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Eleventh Anniversary Trip - Day Four

To keep you from scrolling for days, here are links to Days One, Two and Three!

This was our last day in Idaho.   We packed up and checked out of our condo and headed for the trailhead of what was to be an epic hike for us!   (We both said later that if we'd known exactly what was in store for us, we probably wouldn't have gone!)

A chilly picture at the trailhead
(I wore Three long sleeved layers for much of this hike!)

These pictures don't show it very well, but it was uphill from the very start!

We had to take very frequent rest/water breaks and keep ourselves from going too fast, or we got really worn out and out of breath pretty quickly.
Looking up to the top from a valley

We passed through so much different vegetation and landscape that it felt like the scenery was constantly changing!

While we were in the valley, Philip pointed out that there was frost on the ground!

So glad this guy has a great sense of direction (and that we had GPS!)

A "not so watery" waterfall and a pretty leaf


At one point the trail was mislabeled, so we ended up losing the trail...and having to bushwhack our way back to it, about 200 meters .   At some point in there, the lens cap came off the camera...and was lost forever.   Another opportunity for me to grow ;)   We were getting tired, and run down, and just in the nick of time... BAM!   We came out into a clearing and saw this:

(Hallelujah Chorus)
We had made it to the first mountain lake!  (After two hours, we were almost halfway to the top!)

So gorgeous!
What an amazing place to have our lunch!

My camera and I were busy for quite a while after lunch...

It was breathtaking, and extra special to be the only ones out there!

Such great backdrops

This driftwood was beautiful!

We hadn't made a final decision until this point whether or not we were going to "go all in" and go all the way to the top, though we really wanted to!   After resting, we decided that, for better or worse, we wanted to "do it all" and were willing to feel pretty crumby at the end of the day, knowing we had made it all the way to the summit.

Time to hit the trail again...

Peeking through the trees at the lake

At the opposite end of the lake
(Without the mountains, this reminds me of Michigan!)

After hiking for another half hour or so, we reached the second lake (about 400 feet above the other one)
It was equally beautiful, and very similar, but smaller

After this, the hike got really "real".
Now we started covering some serious elevation...


Looking up to the peak where we were headed

Looking back down at the second lake

I love this one

We were just there!

At this point, the trail wasn't clear, and did some backtracking, so we opted to "scrabble straight up the mountain side" instead.  Whew!   That'll tire you out in a hurry!

Trying to show the angle of how steep it was!

We had to take even More frequent breaks at this point, and lean into the mountain side as we climbed to keep ourselves from accidentally stumbling backwards!

After what seemed like forever, we finally reached the top of a ridge.   As we walked onto some somewhat level ground I said, "Yay!  Now if we fall we won't die!"  =)

Woop!  Woop!  Level-ish ground!

Philip pointing in the direction of the peak

Gorgeous, treacherous trail

We prayed a LOT for safety as we climbed, and I found that when I looked around, I had to do so slowly, so my head didn't spin at the height.

Looking along the ridge to where we're headed

For the last half hour or so, the terrain was like this

Now the lake is waaay down there!

Picture during a break

...and a smooch!

There was a third lake on the other side of the ridge!

I like how this one shows lakes on both sides (the one on the right is the first lake we got to)

Another pretty shot of the third lake

Almost there...

At one point, as we were nearing the end, Philip said, "We have 400 horizontal feet left, and 200 vertical feet."  Yowzers!  That was brutal.

We made it!
(After 4.5 hours of hiking)

The bench mark at the peak
(Elevation: 6,838 feet)

Haha!  This was a selfie that I took, not realizing the lens was zoomed...but I really like it! =)

Okay, that's what we were going for - AT THE TOP!!!

My shoe started falling apart!

From the top we could see both lakes that we'd been to!
 (Upper and Lower Stevens Lakes)

Our best effort at a picture of us with both lakes 
(Philip is standing like this because he was making sure to "catch" me as I hurtled downward, trying to beat the timer, without falling down the side of the mountain!)

I'm on top of the world!!!

Philip at the official highest point

We sat down for a minute, had a snack and a drink, briefly reveled in the feeling of reaching the summit, and then headed back down.    It was already almost 3:30 and we didn't want to mess around with daylight and not getting down in time.   

Headed down...

Back at the lower lake, beautiful reflections

Another picture at the same spot (no hat and better light)

I had been looking forward to the downhill part, thinking it would go so much faster and easier, not fighting against gravity.   Faster, yes (it only took 2.5 hours down), easier, not really!    Since it was so steep, I felt like my body was perpetually falling, which meant a lot of hard, downward pressure and jolting on my feet and legs.  My knees really took a beating and I was in quite a bit of discomfort for most of the way down.

We were completely wiped out at the end.   We covered 7.3 miles roundtrip and about 2,900 feet of elevation climb one-way.  We both figured that it was the most physically taxing day of our lives.   Like I said at the beginning, we didn't know what we were getting ourselves into, but we were SO glad to have done it!

I was tired, sore and HUNGRY!!!   The closest town to grab some fast food (on our way back to Spokane) was about 45 minutes away.   Philip suggested the best thing ever*:  He said that since we were going back through Wallace (home of the Fainting Goat), maybe we should see if I could get some butternut squash bisque to go?  WHAT!?  Yes!  Greatest suggestion ever!*   How great is he??  It may have tasted even Better the second time because I was so hungry (bordering on hangry), but wow, that was some good soup.

[*Philip:  I would like to think that this was not actually my "greatest suggestion ever."  For example, suggesting that we get married has been pretty tremendous, IMHO.  If the kids ever read this blog I want you to know that Mommy does love you more than the bisque.  :-)]

During the 1.5 hour drive back to Spokane, I started feeling pretty bad (I think [editor: know] I was dehydrated) and wanted nothing more than to just fall into bed.   By the time we got to Dane and Elizabeth's house, I had no energy for socializing.   I took a shower and washed all the trail grime off (Which was amazing) and fell, completely exhausted into their awesome guest room bed...and slept for nine and a half hours.

The next morning I had a hard time climbing the stairs from the basement (actually Any steps for the rest of the day).  =)

Me with Liz and their sweet girl, Penelope

After a great breakfast, Liz drove us to the airport and we flew home to our sweet kids who were So happy to see us, and vice versa!

We were SO blessed to be able to take this trip together, it was Such an amazing experience, all of it! Unforgettable memories.   What a way to celebrate 11 years!

Thank you, Philip, for planning such an amazing time for us - I am so blessed to have you at my side! I'm hopelessly in love with you.

Thanks again, Devin and Melissa, for watching our kids, you guys ROCK!!!

Thanks, Dane and Elizabeth for your hospitality, your Car and your friendship - you helped make our trip so great!