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Jennie Lake

Day 2 of 3

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Monday, July 3rd
Jennie Lake to Unnamed Peak over Jennie Lake and back
3.0 miles
630 vertical feet (ascent)
630 vertical feet (descent)

Monday morning, but we didn't think of it as Monday morning at all. You lose all track of time out in the wilderness. Instead of getting up and preparing to deal with traffic on the way to work, I got up to filter water while sitting on a rock in a beautiful lake. Little waves washed by me as I enjoyed the solitude.

The view from my water filtering spot

Meanwhile, I noticed a mass exodus. At least 20 backpackers left the lake that day, many in the morning while we were eating breakfast. I heard some of them saying they were off to Weaver Lake, probably so they could make a quick getaway on 4th of July so they could be back home for fireworks. The entire group of people on the other side of cove from us left that morning or early afternoon.

Now for those of you who are wondering if I skipped over describing something most people do in the morning... Yes, I took my handy trowel and toilet paper off into the woods. And we even packed out our used toilet paper. I bagged it in two ziploc bags and put a small twig in the bag. Jean looked at me strangely, but I explained that I wanted to make sure I knew what it was. Several hours later, when she picked it up thinking it was one of our many bags of unused kleenex, she dropped it suddenly and screamed "Ack! There's a twig in it!" She never had to ask me about the twig again.

Before lunch we decided to explore the rest of the lake shore. We walked all the way to the other end of the lake. We discovered that the other cove (there are two) seemed much prettier than the one we were camped at. People were fishing, and there were still a few scattered tents on this side of the lake. If we have the chance to come back to the lake on a non-holiday, we'll probably try to camp on this side of the lake.

The other cove

The water looked so incredibly green and still. The sun played with the clouds in the morning before breaking through in the afternoon. We had a pleasant stroll right along the shore, enjoying the water, the rocks, and the tall trees. There were also some very pretty flowering bushes. When I saw them, I wished I'd brought my macro lens along. I'd made a conscious decision not to bring it because I felt it was too heavy. But now I felt a little bit of regret. Next time.

The great thing about Jennie Lake is that it's the perfect size. It's not some dinky little pond. It's a bona fide lake. But it's no Lake Tahoe. It's still small enough that you can think of it as your own private lake. You can walk to the other side in a few minutes. That's part of what makes it special.

We walked back to camp to have lunch. We were going to take a short nap, but our tent was roasting in the sun by this time and it was unbearable. Jean still wanted to rest, but I convinced her to come with me on the hike to the top of the peak (unnamed as far as I know) looming above the lake. From the topo map, and visually, it looked dauntingly steep going straight up from the lake (not to mention being over dangerous rocky granite terrain). But it looked like we could curve around the left side of the mountain pretty easily. I could see trees sticking up from the backside of the mountain, so I figured the terrain wouldn't be too bad.

We started off around 2pm, going straight up from our campsite. We blazed our own trail through the open forest, eventually meeting up with the main trail that continues on to KO Pass. We followed the trail for a while, but then it started to deviate from our desired destination and we forged off-trail to the right, heading for the summit ridge.

As we tramped through the forest, I noticed a deer ahead of us. The way steepened ahead of us, and I talked to the deer as we made our own switchbacks, hoping the sound of my voice would prevent it from darting off. It didn't; it just stayed in its tracks, watching us to make sure we didn't make any sudden moves. Eventually our path took us off to the right, away from it, and it went back to contentedly feeding.

Jean bouldering

We didn't even have to reach the top before we were greeted with some awesome views. before us lay a large rock outcropping which cried out to be climbed. While Jean enjoyed some bouldering, I enjoyed the views of the Silliman Crest to the east. Silliman Peak itself was clearly visible, its blockish form standing out beneath a partly cloudy sky. Small patches of snow showed here and there.

Silliman Crest

After spending some time amongst the rocks, we continued up the ridge to the top. The very top consists of a jumble of rocks and bushes which is hard to navigate, especially with trekking poles and a camera strapped to your chest. I eventually strapped the poles to my pack, but the camera stayed. There was some interesting bouldering, but Jean discovered there wasn't much of a view from the top rock. We eventually made our way down a few feet to a better vantage point as another group of hikers came up to join us.

Jean above Jennie Lake

The view from the top (er, near the top) is amazing. I'd expected a nice view of the lake below, but this was more beautiful than I'd imagined. Below us lay all of Jennie Lake, its two coves clearly visible. Beyond that, a forested valley stretching out into the distance, rows of mountains on either side. In the far distance, a perpendicular wall of mountains topped off with snow. This is a view that rivals that of Mount Tallac. Although Tallac clearly has the better 360-degree view, the 150-degree view from the top of this unnamed peak is something to be remembered.

Jennie Lake below my feet

One interesting side note is that it didn't seem that steep down to the lake from the top. I think that when you're looking at it from the lake level, there's so much granite that you lack the depth perception to notice the true steepness. From the top, you can tell that it's somewhat sloping.

Jennie Lake

We sat on the rocks for a long time, not really wanting to come down from our perch. I thought about all the people who hike to the lake but never venture up to the top of the peak -- they don't know what they're missing! We eventually succumbed to the desire to jump in the lake and started our descent. We encountered the trail again for a short time, but then lost it. Somehow, we ended up veering off our intended course. I could tell that we were veering off to the right of the lake, and we had to adjust our course. We ended up going back to our camp through the back way. What happened is that we went straight down, while the ridge around the lake actually curves inward. Next time we should just follow the ridge the whole way instead of trying to follow the trail.

It was nice to arrive back at our camp and know that everything was already set up and we could go directly to the lake and wash up. The water was much warmer than the previous day, as it was more than an hour earlier in the day now. Still, it wasn't warm enough that I was going to actually jump in. I just splashed myself a lot. That was refreshing enough.

Home sweet home

After a good washing we filtered some more water. I ended up filtering water 6 times. With the great scenery, I didn't mind at all.

Trees above our camp

Before I continue, some notes about equipment. First of all, I carried two pots instead of the usual one, but I only carried one lid. This caused some problems when we wanted to cook in the two separate pots. It would have been useful to bring the frying pan to use as a second lid. On the bright side, one good addition to my pack was a solar-powered battery recharger. Worked like a charm. It probably isn't too weight-efficient on a short trip, but could pay dividends on a long trip.

The peak as viewed from the other cove

The peak rising over flowering bush in the foreground

Reflections in the lake

After dinner and an interesting toothbrush incident which left us laughing hysterically, Jean settled down to make another inferno. I'd gathered fire wood earlier that day, so it was easy enough to create a proper teepee. The fire started up immediately. Unlike the previous night, ours was the only camp fire we could see. There was only one camp occupied even remotely close to us, and they weren't burning anything. There was a large group of people beyond them, near the other cove, but they were too far away and over a ridge to bother us. In fact, it felt like we had the whole lake to ourself, which was just fine with us.

Jean about to start another inferno

We settled into our tent to play cards and tangoes. For kicks I measured Jean's blood oxygen saturation, and it was 89%. Pretty good, I thought.

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