You would think that it'd be easier after eating some lunch. Well, nothing about this trip was easy. I hesitate to say that this was the hardest part of the trip though. I also hesitate to say that we made good time. We were ascending towards Lookout Mountain, and the terrain was very much more of the same, except growing steeper and steeper the further we got. Our path took us through more of that "young growth" area, past more lakes, across a murky crossing that reminded me of the beginning of the trip. We crossed a logging road and found a bulldozer sitting where the trail continued. Soon after, I declared a rest stop at a rather pretty lake with a bench beside it. Later, we would come back and filter here. As I've no real clue what the lake's proper name is, and there was a bumblebee buzzing around near the bench, I will refer to this lake henceforth as "Bumblebee Lake"
It got drier and steeper, significantly so after "bumblebee lake" as we headed towards Lookout Mountain. Roughly four hills from the mountain, I spotted the towers on Lookout. This gave me a slight energy boost, a good thing because increasing insect swarms prevented me from eating anything out of my food cache. There really isn't anything I can say that will properly convey the tax this section of the trail put on us. Pictures would not do it justice, so I really didn't take many at this point. Also, a desire to keep mosquitoes out of my mouth was a factor. I point to the relative lack of pictures, in fact, as evidence of this difficulty. I'm sure there are numerous hikers out there who'd find the difficulty we had with this section amusing, and point to trails that were far rougher on them, but this was only my second such hiking expedition, and it was proving overly ambitious. I hope to reach a point where I too can laugh at these woes.
Eventually, we won out over the slopes. Dragged ourselves to the top. Found a group of ATVers who welcomed us to the peak, and expressed surprise that there's a hiking trail leading up to the top. We chatted with them and made our way to the lookout tower atop the mountain. Nearby were two towers, one Radio, one Cellular. I had infact noticed that my reception was better than I would expect in that area. The lookout tower was steel, and had a fairly sturdy feel. It's ascent was narrow, and it occurred to me that it was mildly sadistic to make the reward for scaling the hill, Another Climb!
You could see Rib Mountain from the lookout tower, off to the south. You had a pretty commanding view of the area from there infact. Looked just like it did from the video I posted earlier, which was taken on that same tower. I took a picture but it didn't turn out.
At this point, we retired to the base of the tower and began discussing our options. With all the ticks we were seeing (even there at the tower) we had little desire to stay the night. I really wanted to hear the wolves though, so I waffled. Additional bug repellent options, and earlier seasonal arrival options were discussed and it was decided we'd come back another time to hear those wolves. Initially we thought to make for Firefly Lake, seeing as we were almost all the way there (only another 30-40 minutes once we hit highway). Eventually we'd just decide no, it was too late at night, we were about 3 hours behind our inital schedule (my prior post puts us up there~ 1:10pm, and it was 4:10pm) and we hadn't eaten dinner yet... we'd be better off making for home.
Tomorrow? Our grueling trek out.