Too Much Good Stuff

By Forrest Smith -

“If you’re exhausted and happy, you’re doing something right.” — me

It’s been a whirlwind of a week, and I’ve been bouncing through the various emotions of euphoria, contained frenzied excitement, and sheer exhaustion. I flew up to Seattle on Thursday and met with an incredible team to work with on an upcoming project — so much opportunity for incredible design, product development, and a group of people that I thoroughly enjoyed being around.

On Friday, I flew back down to San Diego, arriving home at 11pm. By 4:30 am the next morning, I was awake and loading the car with backpacking gear. By 5 am, I was on the road driving north on what would be a nine-hour drive to the trailhead, picking up my big sister on the way (you can read her trip report here). Once at the trailhead, I had another six hours and 3,600′ of climbing before my head could hit my pillow (also known to those who backpack as a “pile of clothes”) for some much needed sleep.

I was so happy to be walking amongst the trees and wildflowers, but definitely eager to get to our destination, set up the tent, and get some real sleep.

Time passed quickly as we climbed through the hills, but that line we were blazing across the map was moving rather slowly. We ended up taking an alternate route to our destination for the day, a mistake that didn’t really cost of extra time or mileage, but definitely added some confusion. We stumbled to our campsite on the darker side of twilight, set up the tent, and crashed out.

Woodchuck Lake
It rained a bit overnight, but while somewhat ominous, the clouds in the morning sky looked as though they would clear up. We made our way around the lake, connected to the main trail, and were on our way.

Halfmoon Lake

We hiked past Halfmoon Lake, and the next few miles of hiking were pretty easy. Once we met with the North Fork of the Kings River however, the trail turned into muddy sludge, mostly creek in places, and plenty of avalanche debris to navigate through. It was slow-going, but the river was beautiful — a series of waterfalls skimming over smooth granite.

We pushed on, reaching the meadows below Portal Lake. We soon lost the trail, and had to make our own route up for the last half-mile. We climbed over large granite boulders, eventually rising to the lake.  It was still a fairly exhausting day, but we arrived early so we had plenty of time to set up camp, relax, and even get some reading in.

I don’t want to brag, but I’m a bit of a master at relaxing in the backcountry. Rocks — they don’t convey thoughts of comfort, but smooth granite can be quite comfortable if you find the right spot.

We took it easy waiting around for sunset, which didn’t disappoint:

Portal Lake

Portal Lake

I slept incredibly well while at Portal Lake, and there was an extra bounce in my step as we got started on our hike back out. We steadily ticked off the miles throughout the day, and arrived back at the car, ready for the long drive back home and a growing excitement for the next trip.