Backpacking… something I’ve wanted to try for a long time. Hiking the Appalachian Trail fromend to end has been on my bucket list since before I knew what a bucket list was. Unfortunately, I didn’t know any backpackers or even how to get started. …Enter the Boy Scouts…. no, I’m not a boy – but I have one (2, actually – 3 if you count my husband)!!! My oldest son and husband went on their first backpacking trip last year, and both enjoyed it very much. We spent another year discussing going as a family, and finally we went earlier this month.
We decided on Wall Lake in the Uinta Mountains. The lake is just a short 1 mile hike – which was a perfect maiden voyage for a 40-something-ish Mom and 9 year old boy (my younger son had not been backpacking yet, either). When we got to the Crystal Lake trail head, there was no parking, however, so we added about another mile to the hike because we had to park in the overflow lot (which was really just a dirt road). The hike in was fairly uneventful – except for my older son reacting to his pack. He has some sensory issues and the uncomfortable pack was not sitting right with him.
Then there was the squirrel… my son needed a break from his pack (this helped avoid a meltdown) so he took a break. He sat on a fallen tree with his back to a meadow & I sat on a rock facing the meadow. A squirrel ran across another log in the meadow carrying something. When I pointed this out, my irritated son said – “I hope it gets eaten by a hawk.” Next thing we knew, this squirrel had run up the tree behind him and started ‘yelling’ at him – tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut. Cody jumped up and faced the tree – he was having none of that and yelled back at the squirrel – na-na-na-na-na. Back and forth they went tut – na – tut –na. The squirrel was facing him down – apparently Mr. Squirrel did not like the idea of becoming a grab & go hawk dinner. Luckily that interaction also lightened Cody’s mood a bit and we were able to move on.
We arrived at the lake and found a place to pitch our tents – a nice area sheltered by the trees and just up the shore a bit from the lake. We could look out across the lake to see the wall of cliffs (I’m assuming where the lake gets its name) and Mt Watson behind them and then to our right was the Notch. After settling in, my husband and I took a short hike along The Notch Trail – which was shaded, and passed by several ponds and marshy areas. These areas were such a pretty mixture of greens and really contrasted with all the dead pines infested by the pine beetles.
Over the course of the next few hours, I learned how to use the jet boil (boiling water in 2 minutes – awesome!) and filter water in a Platypus gravity filtration system (I was shocked at how good the water tasted). My husband and I enjoyed a bit of wine with our Mountain House dinners, and the boys had some fun fishing. I went for another short hike around the end of the lake and found a peaceful area to spend a few minutes meditating. It’s so easy to forget how totally blessed I am to be able to get out and enjoy the beauty that God has surrounded us with.
The next morning, I again hiked back to the little pond we visited the day before (I was hoping to see some moose or other wildlife). Since there was someone camped there, I continued up the trail a bit and decided to climb one of the cliffs to get a better view. It was a fairly easy climb – almost like going up a ladder – although if anyone watched me they might have gotten a chuckle at how I would look over/around each place I was going to put my hands (I am petrified of snakes!). I was rewarded at the top with a beautiful view back over Wall and Trial Lakes and the mountains beyond. Again I reflected on the beauty that surrounded me. Although the pine beetle damage was much more evident from up here, I couldn’t help but think those beetles must serve some purpose in life even with the destruction they create.
After some breakfast and a little more fishing for the boys, we headed back down to the car and real life (and a short interchange between my son and Mr. Squirrel again). Although getting to the campsite and back is a bit harder than trailer camping – the clean up is a lot quicker! For me this was a great experience and I can’t wait to go again. I’ve been scouting some places in the same area that are a bit more remote than Wall Lake. We may not be able to head out again until spring – but I’m ready!