backpacking
2 months ago

This hike was tough. It pretty much kicked my ass. I went in very confident. Just over 12 miles? I sometimes trail run that before breakfast, and my gear is ultralight. Piece of cake. Boy was I wrong.

I got to the park at 3pm on Friday. I was the only one there. The ranger told me I'd be night hiking and I didn't believe him.

The first 5 or so miles past China Hole and through The Narrows went great. It was around 90º but I was down in the valley and there were at least a few puddles to get water. Once you get to Willow Ridge Trail though that all ends. The last 5.6 miles is steep, exposed, ridge, and no more water until you get to the lake. It felt like walking up and down all of the hills in San Francisco in succession, if SF were a desert.

I got to the lake after 9 and I was exhausted. It was a little scary to night hike by myself in what felt like deep in the backcountry. I was seeing glowing eyes off to the sides of the trail and kept getting paranoid about mountain lions. But, I did not see any mountain lions. I did see a few tarantulas in the middle of the trail. Nearly stepped on one, but thankfully did not (it probably more thankful than me even).

Then since I rolled in after dark and I wasn't familiar with where the campsites are around the lake, it was really challenging to find where to sleep. I ended up cowboy camping on the flattest square of dirt I could find.

Waking up to the sunrise over the lake made it worth it though, mostly. This was a good learning experience for a relative backpacking noob.