As a Wilderness Ranger intern, I’ve learned when Amy Verellen gives us our manifesto of trails and lakes to inventory for the hitch it’s more of a list of flexible guidelines than a strict itinerary. Both surveying crews had received their assignments and were fully prepared to tackle some serious surveying; my crew was ready to be briefed by Amy Verellen, our Forest Service liaison, while the other crew hiked up Chiwaukum Creek. Unfortunately, severe thunderstorms for the evening appeared on the Forest Service’s weather forecast and all Wilderness Rangers were being pulled from duty including the interns. So, with a day lost my crew hiked to Lake Caroline while the other crew hiked Chiwaukum Creek trail for the second time. While the other crew had troubles with a difficult creek crossing, we had difficulty with camping in close proximity to particularly loud and obnoxious campers. Although conditions were less than ideal, I had my first encounter with the wildlife when a mountain goat stomped through our campsite. The next day Nate and I decided to inventory the lake we were camped at and move everyone’s stuff to a different campsite if we encountered an empty one, which we did, while Erich and Levi hiked ahead to inventory Jack Ridge. When Nate and I continued down the trail to inventory the other lakes listed on the manifesto we discovered fields of flowers, ruthless marmosets, and a mysterious mandible. While we were enjoying a sunny day perfect for inventorying, Caitlin and Susin experienced large storm clouds blowing over Dead Horse Pass, a most awesome terrifying sight. Once we were done inventorying that area, we hiked out to resupply and then Nate, Erich and I hiked to Lake Stuart for the crew’s second attempt to inventory Horse Shoe Lake and while the other group were finding it impossible to access lakes surrounded by cliffs, Nate, Erich and I discovered that our hike to Horse Shoe, although incredibly beautiful, was for naught due to the surrounding area of the lake was covered in snow packs. With a resolve to return to Horse Shoe later in the season, we finished our hitch more aware of the unexpected obstacles which come with working in the rapid changing summer of Alpine Lakes.
September 20, 2012 •