Lake Italy to Laurel Lake
Last night I read to Kevin that Roper considers the Lake Country as the easiest of the five sections. For example, “The hiker will experience occasional talus, but only for a few hundred yards at a time.” We can use a little easy, as we attempt to get to Reds Meadow early, make some calls and start the Obama-like “we lost our SPOT” apology tour.
I wake later than normal, but given I have no SPOT to remember to turn on, we can make up some of the time.
We round the north side of Italy Lake, past the toe, and press up what should be gentle granite slabs. Gentle is not exactly how I would describe it, but we eventually reach the top of Gabbot Pass. As promised by Roper, the view is not much, as the pass is boxed in. We do see, however, a small plane flying along our route, lower than anything we have previously seen. We assume it is my dad, sitting in the seat next to the head of Search and Rescue. Oh, why did that SPOT fall off?
On our way down from the pass, we question Roper’s measurement skills. Clearly these jumbled talus fields are way longer than advertised. We pass Upper and Lower Mills Creek Lakes. The steep trip down to the Second Recess is a complete disaster. We crash through impossibly thick brush, willows, and Quaking Aspens, though we are clearly doing most of the quaking. We cannot even see our feet, but if we don’t push on hard enough, the brush throws us back up the hill. We can see from broken branches and occasional footprints that others have gone this way, but they were clearly not the top of their class, and likely rode to school in the short bus.
We eventually reach a light use trail that improves with time. We reach the bottom at Mono Creek, then work our way up the Laurel Lake trail. I am not sure what it is about switchbacks, but some trail builders have clearly never heard of them. The first mile or so is straight up, through exposed manzanita. Kevin is patient, but I am bonking. It takes a Snickers and liter of water to drag me up.
After the trail eventually levels out, we pick up steam and make it to Laurel Lake, which is boiling with fish. Kevin is sure catching and adding them to our bean burrito diner, would give new meaning to their lives.
We pray Eric and Jorge have kept their promise and called Terri and my Dad with the good news – that we are alive and doing fine. Otherwise, I may get killed.