After reviewing a few more concepts, like map and compass use, we were off. The first 3 miles of the trail were kind of spooky. The trees had been badly burnt in the recent past and it resembled the forest in Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas, but the hiking was easy so we made up for some of the time we lost on our long van ride by hiking fairly quickly. We passed by a few small lakes and it was evident that this area has been extremely affected by the drought. After we crushed the first 3 miles we started to gain elevation and our pace slowed down a little bit. We were actually quite fortunate for the clouds because it saved us from getting sunburned and overheated. We passed through a few marshy areas where the mosquitoes were horrible and we had to stop to apply bug spray. After that we were off hiking again, gaining more and more elevation and thankfully leaving the mosquitoes behind!
When we finally reached our campsite it was breathtaking! We came out of the wood and up to this lake that was surrounded on one side by dense forest and on the other side towering rock faces with patches of snow. The lake had grassy shores where we set up our kitchen and shelters. A few people soaked their feet in the cold river and treated water for the group while the rest of us started to prepare for dinner. While backpacking we do not skimp on eating delicious food. One cook group ate orzo pasta with zucchini, bell peppers, onions and prima rosa sauce and another group ate burritos.
We made a nice little fire for light and the whole group sat around to discuss a few more topics about WWO. This was a really good session for the new leaders to ask the leaders who had already been on WWO trips all the burning questions they had and share new ideas. After the sun went down the energy of the group followed and we decided to call it an early night. We discussed the plan for the next day and hit they hay. Throughout the night, we got sprinkled on but we all set up out shelters well so no one was wet.
Once the sun rose people started stirring. As everyone woke up some cook groups started heating water for tea and coffee while others started treating water and others started preparing for breakfast. Just like dinner we had gourmet backcountry meals. One group had cheesy hash browns, one had bagels, cream cheese, and lox and the last had fancy oatmeal with granola. Once we had all our dishes cleaned and pack packed we headed out on the trail once again.
To be continued...