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TR - Big Pine Lakes - July 2014

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TR - Big Pine Lakes - July 2014

Postby Pulpit » Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:08 am

I flew into San Diego on July 4th. The trip started with the obligatory trip to Old Town for margaritas and Mexican food and to stock up to the gills on candy for the trip. The rest of the 4th and the 5th were spent dicking around, packing up the car and gathering enough food and beer so that we wouldn’t have to leave the canyon for the week.

Day 1 – 7/6/14

We woke departed San Diego around 10 AM or so, our spirits at their customary annual zenith in anticipation of the greatest week of the year, traditional tunes of any road trip playing at an unreasonable volume. Stop was made in Inyokern to refuel. The sky was incredibly cloudy and it rained for a stretch of the drive between Inyokern and Big Pine. Made the obligatory stop at the Big Pine Mobil to make sure we had plenty of Orange Blossom beer and hightailed it up to Big Pine Creek Campground. We usually reserve Site #9 (or Castle #9 as we call it) for the trip and had originally booked this trip for late August but had to reschedule to accommodate Kain’s kindergarten schedule. So we were marooned out at #25 for the first night, which wound up being just fine. Brother E had some pressure in his ears from the altitude change and obtained some rubbing alcohol in a fishing bait cup to remedy this issue, which he left on the picnic table at the site, leading to this amusing incident:

The rest of the night was spent playing Frisbee, drinking beer, playing music and eating dinner. It started raining around 10PM or so and rained intermittently throughout the night until 10 or 11 AM Monday.

Big Pine '14 018.jpg


Day 2 – 7/7/14

We lazed around in the morning waiting for the rain to subside. We had Castle #9 reserved for the rest of the trip and spent about an hour walking our stuff over there once the previous occupants departed. Spent the rest of the day walking Big Pine Creek, fishing, hydrating, etc. Had the annual Castle #9 Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys Dinner and Hoedown. E and K went up to the pond to do some fishing while I hiked a few hundred feet up above the campground to watch the sun set.

The day’s activities included the following seminar on dealing with problem bears:

Big Pine #9 Camp:



Day 3 – 7/8/14

We were packed up and out of camp by 8:30 or so, my pack was the lightweight at I am guessing 50+ pounds, Brother E had to be pushing 65 and Kain at “zero point zero” in the immortal words of Blutarsky in “Animal House”. We had no idea whether he would actually be able to walk the whole way to the lakes and were prepared to put him on our shoulders and ferry packs for the last couple of miles. Luckily, the boy was up to the task and this would not be necessary. Considering the pack weight and pace limitations of a 5 year old, we made good time and were at the Chaney Cabin by about noon, where we took a nice break:

We continued on the last couple miles with some short rest stops and then made the final climb up to the glorious overlook of First Lake:

Brother E had “Ride of the Valkyries” playing in his backpack for the final ascent, but it did not come through on the video so I had to dub it in later for full effect. I turned to Kain and asked something like “What do you think of THIS? Pretty cool, huh?”, expecting him to possibly respond with an awestruck comment regarding the profound beauty of the glacial waters below. Instead, he responded “I told you I’d make it up here, Jerky”, which was repeated approximately 37 times during the rest of the day and night.

I had previously explored the area where the DWP stone shelter is near Lake #1 on a day hike and thought there were abundant flat spots in the area between the shelter and the lake. Alas, this was not the case but we were able to find a serviceable, previously used site above the lake, just big enough for their tent and my hammock, so we set up camp and ate dinner. We walked around for a little while before sunset. Kain was pretty tired and was first to bed while E and I stayed up watching the stars and smoking our Davidoffs. The temperatures were above normal and sleeping was very comfortable with just a long sleeve shirt and my sleeping bag in the hammock.



Day 4 – 7/9/14

We woke early, had breakfast and then set out on a day hike. We went up to 3rd Lake, the boys hung around and did some fishing while I just laid out on a perch and relaxed overlooking the lake. We were not real thrilled with our campsite from the previous night and decided we would find something better for this night. Rain was threatening, but never materialized but it was worrisome enough that E went back to camp to find a new spot and moved the gear while Kain and I continued up the trail towards 4th Lake. We never made it to 4th Lake because the mosquitoes got thick enough around the small lake between 3rd and 4th to make us turn around.

We got back to the new campsite just below the talus slope on the eastern edge of Second Lake and spent the rest of the day exploring around that lake, fishing and relaxing. We hung out by the creek and made noodles. I took the water for my noodles right out of the creek and only barely brought it to a boil before starting to cook them, a mistake that I would certainly pay for tonight.

Again, this night we just spent time hanging around camp playing music, making silly videos and generally having a good ole time:

Me and E again hung out smoking cigars and watching the stars after Kain went to bed, without the slightest hint of the stomach illness that was about to befall yours truly. We turned in around 10:30 or so I believe.







Day 5 – 7/10/14

I awoke in my hammock at around 11:30 last night with my stomach in terrible distress. From this point on I was out of my hammock to “use the restroom” every 15-20 minutes. Just literally praying for the sun to rise so that I could pack up and head back down to the campground. I never knew that you were supposed to let water boil for at least 5 minutes before cooking and had been getting away with the mistake for all of the backpacking trips I’ve done in my lifetime. Lesson learned the hard way. It just sucked that I was taking care to filter all drinking water properly and thought I was cooking properly just to find out I had been making a terrible mistake for years and years!!

At any rate, I woke E up at the break of dawn and told him I had to get down. Being the great brother that he is and seeing the condition I was in, he actually tried to talk me into leaving my pack up at the lake and he would come back and get it after he walked down with Kain. I refused, not wanting to put him through this and hightailed it down the trail, with a couple of breaks. By the time I got back to the campground I was so exhausted and dehydrated that every step felt like a monumental achievement. Got back to Site #9 and all I wanted was a ginger ale, so I made what was an absolutely harrowing 200 yard or so trek to the Lodge store and luckily they had one 32 ounce ginger ale. Went back to camp and slept until about 4:00 and was still feeling absolutely rotten. I was so weak that E actually drove me up to the lodge where I took a pay shower which immediately helped. I was starting to feel a little better after that but terribly weak and basically slept the rest of the day and night. I never went to the doctor, but I am pretty sure it was Giardia.

Day 6- 7/11/14

Due to the aforementioned schedule change, we were not able to have Castle #9 for Night 6 and actually had a reservation for a spot in Upper Sage Flat campground. We packed up and drove down there. The site was incredibly small and crappy and completely exposed to the sun. Coupling this with my ordeal of the previous 36 hours we decided to simply go back to San Diego instead of staying another night, although I was feeling a lot better.

All told and even though I got horribly sick, I still consider this one of the best backpacking trips I have ever done. Just for the fact that I was able to share it with my nephew and see how much he loved it and think about how fondly he will remember this someday when he grows up. He really enjoyed it and we did not push him too hard to the point where it wasn’t enjoyable. I’m glad that we were patient and only took him car camping / day hiking the previous 2 years, because I think if we had tried to backpack with him those years it may have been a negative experience for him.
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