Day Three July 20: Surprise Creek to Cepeta Lake, 2400’ 15 plus miles (extra credit)

One of the best things about backpacking is when you get a good nights sleep. I was exhausted and went to my tent at 8pm and woke up at 5am. Glorious night of rest and recuperation.

Today was the day I had my closest friends pray for extra safety, stamina and solid footing. It was a 15 mile hike with 2400’ elevation gain and 2400’ descent. Typically you want to climb and stay above tree line but evidently that’s not the case today. I took off early hoping to get much of the climb out of the way. Once I had a couple of miles underfoot, the trees diminished and the mountains were the main attraction. My first spotting was a marmot, obviously trying to ward me away from his family. They are clever little creatures and truly the protectors of their loved ones. As I traveled up the mountain, I saw what appeared to be the biggest deer I’ve ever set eyes on. He was looking at me, not sure if I was friend or foe and then walked off. A few 100’ further, I get another look and to my amazement, these two are no deers at all. They are elks. Once again they are trying to determine what is approaching and just as I snap a picture, they run off and so does the entire herd that was hiding behind the trees! My first up and close encounter of these magnificent mammals on this trail. What a wonderful day this is going to be.

I climbed to the top of a barren plateau and then looked down on the many lakes and meadows below. Salamander catches up and we take a break planning the rest of our day. We have two passes to get over and they are both 11800’ or so. Hiking above tree line is comparable to walking on the Alaskan Tundra. The ground is squishy and soft with no discernible trail. What cracks me up is the sign they post “Stay on Trails.” Seriously, there’s no trail to stay on. The only clue we have are rock Karin’s and our GPS. It’s a treasure hunt up here. The miles are slow going and by lunch, we have only made it to Deadman’s Lake. Odd name, I thought.

We have our lunch and figure out our plan of attack for the next climb. There’s two routes, both just as steep as the other but one is .1 mile shorter. I’m thinking let’s take the shorter route which is undefinable and so I stick with the longer path. Once on top of our final pass, we still have over six miles to camp. I’m already exhausted and get into granny gear and slowly make my way down. Salamander not much faster as she has a stress fracture in her foot which is causing her pain. No doubt! She’s such an incredible athlete and I guess she is used to pain and wasn’t planning to give up on this backpacking trip for some inconvenient stress fracture.

As I make it down the trail, yes, we finally have a trail, I am thinking about all the prayers both answered and unanswered. I starting journaling many years ago but I can’t say I journal daily. But I do look back on occasion and Jesus reminds me of all the answered prayers. I try to focus on His mercies but there are many times I ask why He hasn’t answered my petitions? Then I am reminded of who He is, almighty and omnipresent. God knows and hears all of my prayers and my hope is that when the time is His time, many of my unanswered prayers will come to be. But my prayer tonight was for rest and possible time to soak my feet, and that prayer was perfectly answered. Thank you Lord!

Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy, in your faithfulness and righteousness, come to my relief. Psalm 143:1

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