|Somebody really wants you to|
know that there are 4!!
We left the trailhead at 10 am, and 5 hours later we had traversed 6 miles and climbed 2000 feet. This is a snail's pace for us, and part of the delay was the first stream crossing. We followed some helpful orange "ribbon" to a spot with an easier passage (lower water flow), but it made finding the trail on the other side more difficult. (On our return, we stuck to the bona fide trail and the creek crossing was perfectly manageable, saving us significant time. Descent from the lake only took us four hours.) In case you are not familiar with stream crossings, this involves taking off your pack, removing your boots and socks, donning your water shoes, hoisting your pack with your boots strung around your neck, striding quickly but safely through ice cold water and then rewinding the process on the other side. I would estimate each crossing adds 15 minutes to the hike. Do the math - four crossings - an extra hour! We got lucky that a MASSIVE cedar had conveniently fallen across the creek right at a crossing - here I am strolling over it.
Early on the hike, I saw that hollyhocks and a purple-flowering plant were predominant. At first glance, I thought it might be a larkspur, but closer examination suggested the pea family. Wrong on both counts! My purchase of Plants of the Rocky Mountains a couple of years ago has been a godsend for identifying flowers, shrubs and trees. In this case, I discerned that my purple majesties are Columbian Monkshood. You can be lured into its velvety folds, but you should be aware that all parts of the plant contain the poisonous alkaloid aconitine. The flowers are harmless to handle, but are violently poisonous if eaten. Just touching it can cause tingling, numbness, and in severe cases, heart problems. Less than 20 ounces of the roots is fatal to a horse. Beautiful but potentially deadly.
Shortly after the first stream crossing, we passed between two towering cedars, both adorned with carved signs denoting "Cabinet Mountains Wilderness/Kootenai National Forest". Clearly, the one on the right has seen better days, and someone saw fit to add the one on the left. Eagle eyes might also detect that Man with Hat is Man with Hat 2. As I reported in this post, a little too much fun in the sun had taken its toll on Hat, and it has been reassigned to purely fishing duties. So, today, we officially welcome Hat 2.
|The slightly wider brim bumps into the backpack when it is full, so I|
added a button that allows Man with Hat to secure the brim in
the upright and locked position
Before the fourth and final stream crossing, the scenery opened up enough to offer our first view of spectacular A Peak. Near here, yellow columbines added themselves to the floral display.
|Left: Yellow Columbines; Upper Right: A Peak; Lower Right: A hand-carved sign points the way to Granite Lake|
We will buy the mac n' cheese dinner again (it was a new one for us). All too soon it was time to retire to the tent. As we brushed our teeth, a single mule deer approached through the woods. She did not move off; she clearly wanted to be right there. Strange. After we had zipped ourselves into the tent, we heard something knock over the trekking poles, which we had left propped near the seating area of the fire circle. Man without Hat peered into the gathering darkness, and darn if it wasn't that mule deer again. He got out and brought the poles over to the end of the tent. Snuggled down into our sleeping bags once again, it wasn't too long before we could hear the poles banging around right above our heads. Yep, you guessed it - the deer. We reckon she was after the salt on the handles from our perspiration. The poles were moved inside the vestibule of the tent, and that finally seemed to put her off. But my nerves were jangling and it took me quite a while to drift off to the land of Nod.
Early to bed, early to rise. We emerged from the tent at 6 AM, witness to the sun's artwork - she had flicked her paint brush over the top of A Peak - stunning!
When you arise early, it is a license for a slow start. Some coffee. A fire. Navel-gazing and contemplating the wonders of the universe. We wandered down the trail to one of the "ponds" created by Granite Creek, in the hope that we might spot a morning moose. Not that day. But nothing could dispel our joy to be the only two humans in this incredible slice of paradise, with nothing more than birdsong to disturb the peace.
And did I mention the birthday of a certain Man with Hat? Yes, this day also welcomed another circle around the sun for my esteemed husband. No cake with candles, but I did carry two cards in my backpack for him to open in the morning. Happy Birthday again, my dear!
The previous day, Man with Hat described the far end of the lake, which he had been able to access via his inflatable pack raft. "You think it's spectacular from here? You should see it up close!" And so it was that I found myself paddling away to distant shores. And he was right. The sheer scale of the cliffs. The myriad of waterfalls that can only be seen when you get close. The incessant pounding of the water on rock as it leaps downward from the glacier to the lake. The below mosaic is the best of the pictures that I took from the boat, and the video may help you visualize some of the waterfalls.
It had been a thoroughly delightful morning, but all good things must come to and end, and so we departed the camp at noon. On a hike, I never take all the pictures that I want to on the way out - it would take too long and more importantly, I might wear out the patience of one Man with Hat. So, I had my mental list of plants to capture on our return route.
|Upper right: Nodding Onion; Middle right: Stonecrop; Lower right: Fruit of Solomon's Seal|
|Left: Fading lupines; Upper right: Bead lily, ferns and moss on a rock; Lower right: Aspen Fleabane|
|Left: if you look closely, you can see a cow parsnip that is taller than Man with Hat|
On the way down, we passed a couple with a dog, and later, a single man intent on some fishing. We encouraged them to persist through the stream crossings, the jungle and the spooky forest. As we experienced it, the glory of Granite Lake is something meant to be shared.
Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages. Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post. The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain Time). Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog. Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back. As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by. Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully. Thanks for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.