Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Return to Four Mile Lake, September 21 - 24

Bob and I took off on Monday, September 21, to camp at FourMile Lake, a lovely lake site we camped at last year at about the same time. Then, as now, as most of the cool, once unpopular or undiscovered campsites, FourMile Lake was surprisingingly full. But, enough empty sites to find one without neighbors on both sides, which would change as the week progressed.

Primary attractions for this site include the awesome trail that wraps around the lake, providing a healthy 13 mile trail run, and, of course, the lake! Perfect to explore in our inflatable tandam kayak!

Tuesday morning offered the first opportunity to trek out on that 13 mile trail. Give or take on the mileage.... The GPS readings Bob gets are notoriously short, and this is probably no exception from the reading he got last year..... This time, I would be going solo. Bob was still recovering from his hip/groin injury. I took off around 8 a.m..... early enough to avoid the potential heat of the day, and maybe before other hikers.

I took a map, and if was feeling up to it, Bob had marked off another loop off the main trail, that would bring me past a couple other high lakes, and would add another couple, or so, miles. I figured I would decide whether to go the extra option once I reached that junction ...... When I started out, I stumbled a few times, tripping over and twisting my ankle on the rocky trail of the first section, and I knew I was in for a slow run. The trail really is quite lovely, once the rocky section settles down. A lot of manure avoidance manuevering, for it is a popular horse-riding trail. (Indeed, there were several horse campers, corrals provided.) Not a lot of climbing, but it happens in the first few miles. One high point overlooks the lake, at its most NorthWestern end. I stopped, referenced the map, and waved out to Bob and the doggies, although he later said he didn't see me (duh). I did look at the map quite a bit, both to get familiar with reading a map, and to see where I was. However, in my focus on the trail, I missed the turn-off for the extra loop, for when I looked next, I was way past it. Oh well, I was kinda okay with that. As with last year, I visited the little Clearspring creek, off the main trail. I enjoyed the forested section, running with ease, albeit still slow. The trail follows the PCT for a while. The double slash wounds on trees marked the way in case I ever felt a bit unsure ..... In the middle section of my loop, the trail did not look like it got as much usage..... Okay by me! When I got to the 7 mile  junction, my watch said 1hr, 40mins. Wow, I was running REALLY slow, or was taking a lot of breaks, or the mileage markers noted by Bob's GPS were WAY off. I was also getting kinda tired, and ready to be heading back and be done. I scraped some lemonlime gu into my mouth, deciding it was my latest favorite flavor, and continued on. A couple miles later, I encountered the first hikers. They looked surprised seeing me. They were a young couple, totally decked out with hiking sticks, boots, camping gear in backpacks....(yikes, weren't they hot in those flannel shirts, long pants and wool socks?). Looked like they were just starting out on the PCT for a camping adventure. I waved and ran on. In another mile or so, I heard the distinctive jangle, then Albert bounded towards me along the trail. Yaa! My honey with the poopies greeted me. Bob said he started out about the same time I left, although he was walking. I gave him some of my water, as he was not carrying any. I knew I could make it back without too much more fluid, whereas he would be out longer walking. I walked with him for a while, then he encouraged me to continue on, which I did. From there, I did encounter several more hikers.... Apparently, this back side is the more popular trail to hike. More views and access to the lake. I greeted everyone I passed, everyone seeming surprised to see a runner. Was I that dirty? Dirt on my face? Something stuck in my teeth?  The last few miles are downhill. Yaa.... sort of. Gotta keep on your feet, and be nimble. Finally, the last section of the trail as it introduces hikers into the Wilderness area. I finished in just under 3 hours. Again, no speed records there.... joy is in the journey! I went over to the pump, and pumped. And, pumped. Pumped some more. Got a bit of a flow of water, enough to half fill my bottle and splash my face. I gave up, cuz the thing screeched like I was hurting it. There were other campers in the vacinity. After some quick pretend stretching, reclined on a picnic table, I wandered back to the trail to meet Bob. The rest of the day was spent relaxing around the campsite! Eating, too. And, reading. Then, walking the poopies some more!

The next day, instead of a run, we kayaked! Kayaked to the far end. I pointed out where I thought the high point was, and where I waved. Uh, huh. The water was just slightly ripply. No white caps. The far side was, what, 4 miles? Just a guess. While kayaking, we were excited to see a bald eagle. It swooped over the water, and found a tree on which to perch. No other wildlife sightings....No fish seen in the clear water. Not sure if the fishing folks were catching anything, although they were persistent in trying!

Since I didn't do the longer route on Tuesday, I was getting psyched up to try it on Thursday. However, I knew something was wrong when I looked out of the camper window first thing in the morning, and could look directly at the sun!
Smoke! I thought I smelled something.... Once outside, it was obvious.

No running for me! We couldn't tell where the smoke was coming from.... it completely blanketed the whole lake. Since we didn't know what or where, we decided to get out! Maybe it was coming our way! Maybe it was just a matter of time before we were asked to evacuate! We packed up while sipping our french press coffee, and got out of there. Later, we discovered that the smoke was from the fires that were blazing outside of Roseburg, and accompanied us all the way back to Bend.

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