I got up to get my watch when the 4am alarm went off. Then I slept lightly until the 5am alarm. I didn’t have much to do to get ready to hike, and we had everything packed and in the car by 5:45.
Our first stop was the famous Wrangler Cafe, a breakfast diner with a menu so immense it was impossible to decide. One thing was for sure, though. There would be hash browns. And toast. Those came with or in almost everything. I decided on a “Greek breakfast” which was basically a ham, egg, and cheese sandwich, but with piles of scattered hash browns where the bread would be (and rye toast on the side). I added a pancake and we all added biscuits, equally famous.
The hash browns were incredible, the biscuits were alright, and the pancake was perfect, but I was too full to finish it. I spread jelly on the toast and took it with me.
Our destination was Green River Lakes for a small group hike around the lake. Most of the way was a pretty well-maintained dirt road, but it did slow us down a bit so that the trip was 1.5 hours in total. With some preparation and packing for a day hike (and the unfortunate loss of most of my Gatorade into the day pack), we set out together around the lake.
The setting was much the same as it had been the first time except warmer and drier. The snow was gone from the peaks. However, the hike was much slower because now it was a moving photo shoot, and every vista needed a picture taken by every party member of every other combination of party members at every camera orientation and zoom level. The first tenth of a mile took fifteen minutes.
Things picked up about halfway through. The hiking itself was about the same speed, but there weren’t as many views or as many pictures. Even so, it was already looking like we wouldn’t make it back to the car by noon nor get me back to my trail by 2. I took to hiking way ahead of the other two to find a shady spot to get some blogging done. That way, even though I would have to start hiking late and therefore make it to camp late, at least I could just go right to sleep as soon as I was set up and only be a few hours behind on blogging.
Because I was always walking ahead and then stopping to blog and wait for the rest to catch up, I scared off a pair of moose before anyone else could see. So after that I took to staying put even after the others caught up, letting them get way ahead and get first dibs on the animal sightings, then catching up, passing them, and repeating the cycle.
We finally made it back to the campground about 1pm. I had been hoping to be finished by noon, but the last few miles were really hard on my mom. Gail seemed to do quite well though. 5 or 6 miles is a long first wilderness hike. Anyway, my mom stopped at the boat launch parking lot, Gail brought the keys to the trailhead, and I drove back to pick her up to save her the last quarter mile. She said her legs were wobbly and she was feeling sick to her stomach. It was probably a result of not drinking enough before starting or just generally not being accustomed to exertion at 8000 feet above sea level.
With a bit of speeding, we were back in Pinedale a bit after 2, and as soon as I had cell service, I had phoned the Mexican place the forest service ranger girl had recommended to have me a burrito ready. So, we stopped to pick that up, then swung by Ridley’s for some Lamisil (days of hiking in wet socks made a great environment for fungal growth) and a Gatorade to drink with my burrito. Then, we were finally headed back out to the trailhead, where, after eating the burrito, pictures, and some shenanigans, I was ready to hike out by 3:30.
The hike up to Seneca Lake was much the same as the one down but in reverse. My pack was heavier and it trended uphill, so I went slower. I took a break at Photographer’s Point this time, which seemed like a prettier view on that clear afternoon. I saw two grouse going up compared to only one going down, but just as many chipmunks.
Around 7:30, I arrived back at the very same campsite from two nights before and pitched my tent in the very same place. It’s nice when you already know where to go and don’t have to think. A cold wind picked up as the sun set, so I cooked in the vestibule while snuggled in my new tent, then got to sleep at a much more reasonable hour than the previous night. Not even the squirrels were yelling through my tent walls. Just the wind in the trees.
Trail miles: 0 (not one of those 13 or 14 miles hiked counts!)
Distance to Lander: ~81 miles