Our flight from the mountain was not swift. Not on the whole. We made relatively good time in the downhill section of the trail, refreshed from our break atop the mountain. But we were low on water and we knew it. and downhill does not equal easy. if anything it's a greater challenge in terms of balance, your load wants to pitch you forward and you need to stay in control. Still, we made admirable time from the mountain, down to the meadow we might have stayed in. But by then we were steeled against staying, and moved onwards. As we continued, we kept waiting to reach "bumblebee" lake again. Surely it was just around the next bend, just past this next hill... But it didn't turn up. and it didn't turn up, and each step we took without seeing it made us gladder and gladder that we didn't decide to stay.
It turned out to be over a mile away, as the trail lies. I checked, afterwards on google. We would have walked a mile out, and a mile back for water, and been dead exhausted from it. As it was, my filter didn't like something in the water. It started spraying out the pressure release port, rather than pumping properly. I scrubbed, pretty vigorously, with the included brush. Rinsed it out. tried pumping again, and we only managed another liter or so before it began spraying again. Mind you, this was WITH the prefilter I'd bought. I was fairly displeased. I don't know if the lakes are full of ancient glacial silt or what. Best theory I have is that the slime from Bus Lake's weeds is responsible. I'm going to need to put that filter through it's paces and evaluate whether I want to keep it after all. I think the worst part of all, was how frustrating it was while I was exhausted.
We figured we had enough water, at this point, to reach the car. I'd managed to wolf down a Clif bar before pumping, and that kept me from crashing completely, but my muscles were nearing their limits. It was most noticeable from my left leg. My bad leg. a 2008 ski crash left three titanium pins and a plate in my tibia, and I don't know how to keep myself from subconciously favoring the leg. As a result, my left leg is weaker than the right. I was relying heavily on my ski poles, sometimes cantering with left leg, right pole, right leg left pole motions, and other times I was bounding like a gorilla, slamming the poles in place as one, and heaving myself past them on the strength of my arms. I had to keep moving because the lower the sun crept, the further we went, the worse the bugs got. But more than once as I reached the top of a hill, I'd feel the ascent take it's toll on my legs, and had I not had my trekking poles for support, I'd not have stayed upright. At least twice, my left leg wobbled and threatened to fail utterly.
At some point, crossing a fallen tree I nearly twisted my ankle. And here's why you'll NEVER sell me on going with lightweight trailrunners as some of the toothbrush drilling elite prefer. My left foot came down weird, on uneven terrain and the ankle began to roll. My trekking poles steadied me as I lurched forward, but without them, and without the ankle support of my vasque breezes, I KNOW I would have completely rolled, possibly broken it. But With my poles to catch me, and while my boots won't stop it completely, they impeded the roll, making it less severe.
Those last two miles were hell. I was SO glad I failed to talk anyone into joining us on this trip, had I done so, that would be the last trip they would ever agree to take with me I am sure. Bob and I both went quiet, lost in pain and morale depleted. We no longer chatted, we no longer even swore at the inclines. The most you got from me at the sight of the next climb was a pained whimper. I wanted SO badly to just lay down and cover my face with my hat and REST, but I couldn't. if I lay in the brush I'm sure the ticks would have carried me off to their lair.
Returning to the car, we checked ourselves for hitchhikers, stowed our gear, rehydrated from the supply we had there, and made for culvers. I purchased a feast of meats to sate the fierce hunger I had worked up on the trail. I even allowed myself a Dr Pepper. That sweet nectar, rich in caffeine and sugar reinvigorated me incredibly. I began to feel some semblance of human. Had I been able to tap into the food cache on my back, devour a lara bar or two, I might have stayed in higher spirits or been clearer headed.
I don't regret doing the hike. I intend to go back. I do regret waiting till this late in the season to go. I do intend to go earlier in the year. I'm also going to try coating my clothes in permethrin, see if that's a more effective anti-insect measure. And when I go back there, I'm going to find some way, concoct some liquid elixir to subsist on during my climbs/descents. Something to keep me energized and alert and that won't require me to stop to consume it. Get a cheap camelbak knockoff that I dont have to keep clean for water and fill it with some sugary nectar perhaps. I was considering maybe dissolving in a little caffeine and asprin too.