Part 6 - Adventuring with Don 2018

Part 6 – Descent from Boulder Pass 

With any threat of a showdown having been eliminated, we did joke about having tattoos inscribed on Tim’s knuckles, so that he could flash his fists with “R U L E   B R K R” emblazoned on them.

 Life in camp goes on. One of the things we needed to do daily was to purify our drinking water. We always had a water source nearby, either from the lakes or from a little waterfall near the camp at Boulder Pass. Glacier Guides provided pumps through which we purified the water. This process was pretty quick, as we would refill our water bottles so that we were prepared to keep hydrated during the day. Ryan carried a couple of canvas pails in which we carried water back to camp and from which we used part for cooking and clean up as well as for purifying that which we drank.


In all camps, we tidied up so that nothing was left behind, except for our footprints.

If we packed it in, it needed to be packed out also.

At Boulder Pass, our “comfort station” was the one that was a open air commode which offered us quite a magnificent view of the distant mountains. 

There was, however, a bit of another incident involving one our crew while he was answering the call of nature in the early dawn’s light. Minding his own business, so to speak, he heard twigs snapping and was alarmed by the sound. Being in bear territory, a first thought might be to get up and run, but with pants around your ankles, that probably would be a very ungraceful way to escape. Much to the surprise of our unwitting fellow backpacker, a deer came out of the tree line and boldly stood in front of him. If it had been me, I might say it scared me s—tless!  Maybe that deer was just curious to know exactly how we two legged beings actually answered the call of nature – “ahh, so THAT is how you do it!” 

At least it was not a bear bearing down on our dear friend who was barely prepared for a beastly encounter.

Meanwhile, I was in the process of dismantling my tent and, looking up, I was quite surprised to see a deer studying me just 8 feet away. My camera was in my pack and although I tried to retrieve it to capture the moment he seemed fearless and unconcerned by our presence, even looking back at me before  sauntering off in no particular hurry to escape or avoid us.  

Gathering at the food prep area, we heard of the commode encounter with the deer and then of my own encounter by the tent. Undoubtedly, this was one and the same curious critter that witnessed a bit about some of our habits while in the backcountry. 

 Just as that deer moved on, we too were soon back on the trail that morning. Up at the higher elevation, larger vegetation was negligible. Ryan helped identify the flora and also taught us more about the geology during our days on the trail.

I enjoyed the abundant wildflowers as well as the snowfields, little ponds and trickling streams.


On the trail for a bit and before further descending, we all dropped our backpacks and lingered awhile at the high elevation, where distant peaks were visible through the hazy sky. 


Those most forward were darker, while those in the distance appeared in progressively lighter shades of bluish grey. Here we rested and snapped several photos, including a group silhouette showing our antics against a background of hazy mountains. 

Descending even more, we crossed a snow bridge, refreshed our drinking water, ate some lunch and then proceeded along a section of narrow trail before reaching a less treacherous elevation that lessened my fear of falling down a mountainside.

We dropped down considerably all morning, at times on that narrow trail on a mountainside. I honestly felt more stable keeping my eyes fixed on the trail ahead of me, for when I looked up, forward or around me, I felt a bit unsteady, thus I mostly kept looking forward but downward at the path. This also kept me alert to any larger rocks on the path that could trip me and send me careening off the trail and down into oblivion.

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Along this trail, Ryan recounted a time when he was helping a hiker and somehow a backpack went over the edge and down, down, down. He did retrieve the pack, but all I could think was that it would be a real disaster if I were the one to lose my balance and end up in a heap somewhere far below.

Ryan had been extolling the virtues of our next campsite, Lake Frances, as the best of all our camps. Lake Frances, according to him held a special place in his heart and was to be a nearly reverent respite along our journey. 

Before we reached Lake Frances, however, Ryan was anxious to have us experience another small lake where we could take the opportunity to jump in for a brisk, refreshing plunge.

My feet were getting a bit sore and my energy was waning, which prompted me to simply soak my feet in the very cold water. For those who did brave the chilling dive, the shocked expressions were priceless with breathless gasps upon resurfacing. Those brave souls also very quickly swam ashore to escape the bone chilling waters.

                                                                          Tiffany takes the plunge!

Now down at lower elevations, our trail cut through some thick overgrowth before emerging near Lake Frances. From our campsite area, the thick vegetation did not allow us a clear view of the lake. 

After we deposited our packs, Ryan was obviously ready to share the experience of seeing Lake Frances for our first time. 

Passing through more thick vegetation, we emerged to what was the most rewarding lake site of the whole trek. Against the backdrop of high mountainsides, lay this beautiful blue green gem, shimmering in the midday sun. To the right beginning high up on the mountainside water cascaded downward not from just one waterfall but a conglomeration of many smaller ones converging to one long fall that flowed into the lake. To the East the lake flowed down through the trees into the stream carrying the water onward through the pine forest. On another side, a swift current brought water down from the mountains behind us and into the lake. Lake Frances, nestled in this idyllic setting, truly was a sacred place.

Lingering there at the lakeside was peaceful. As we absorbed the beauty all around us, an osprey appeared high above, a fish clasped tightly in it’s talons. The bird flew in several circles above us as if to show off its' catch. At other times fish were jumping in the lake, snapping up insects not visible to our eyes. The sound of rushing water, the waterfalls. the high mountain walls, patches of snow, the green vegetation, all were a fine portrait of nature.

Later in the afternoon, Gyorgyi discovered she had lost several pieces of jewelry while she had washed up at the lake. Understandably upset with the loss, a couple of us went in search of the jewelry.

After an initial, fruitless search, I moved further up on the trail and found the two missing bracelets. Then at another spot we both searched for two precious earrings. Almost immediately, I spied the lost treasures, which brought her immense relief. A very happy Gyorgyi dubbed me “The Finder of Lost Things”. 

Here at Lake Frances, we ate our dinner and breakfast on the beach instead of using the food prep area a little distance back up from the lake. Ryan suggested that we sleep on the beach that night, which I did along with Bob, Kate, Brandon, and, of course Ryan. I faced my sleeping bag toward the East allowing me to catch the dawn’s early light. Snuggled up tightly in the sleeping bag, the cold air nipping upon my face, I simply snuggled deeper and drew the bag tighter around my face. Surprisingly, even with temperatures in the low 40’s to high 30’s, I was very content and comfy throughout the night.

Awaking with the first light of day, the colors brightening the sky, I sat up bundled in my sleeping bag. I turned around to see Ryan, also sitting up, wrapped tightly in his bag. In that tranquility of the early dawn I glanced over to Ryan. His smile and wave back to me were confirmation of our mutual connection to the serenity we felt at this early hour. 

We enjoyed our breakfast there at the lakeside and further relaxed into the late morning not wanting to hasten our departure any sooner than was necessary. Our last camp was about 5 miles with very little elevation change, so that hike was to be relatively easy.

Lake Frances’ placid setting was a fitting spot to linger a while longer.

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u © Donald E. Kline 2012