Bailey Range 1996
Layover at Cat Lake
I always like to have a layover day or two on a long trip. They provide a chance to rest and recuperate for those who need it, and a chance to explore for those who do not. Cat Lake is a great place to do either. It is only a half a mile to the High Divide Trail, which will bring you to the southern boundary of Seven Lakes Basin, a lovely place to camp or explore. The "guided" activity for the day was a day hike over to the Basin. Will and Susie and I hiked over there. Dolph and Regina opted for less strenuous activities, like keeping track of the local bears. (They reported later that one small one entered our camp area and climbed one of the trees to get a better look.) When we got to the ridge above Lake Number 8 in the Basin (I can not figure out why the call it 7 Lakes Basin if there are 8 lakes, but Hey, I don't make the rules) Will split off from Susie and I. Susie and I headed down through talus, while Will headed west to do his own thing. Will is very much a "his own thing" kind of guy, and I suspect that he chafed somewhat throughout the trip, the ruggedness of which dictated we had to more or less stick together. We got down to the Lake, and I had a quick dip. We talked to a fellow from Seattle that was half of a party of two briefly, and looked over at the lower lakes before turning around. We just did not feel like expending a whole lot of extra energy that day. We climbed back up the ridge on grass covered slopes, trying to stay on the easiest grade. When we got to the ridge top, we actually were on a small spur ridge looking down into Heart Lake basin, rather than on the High Divide trail. No matter: we just traversed the grass covered slopes about 100 yards, and found a lovely knoll that provided a 360 view of the surroundings, about 50 feet above the trail. Our view of the Blue Glacier on Olympus was unimpeded. On our way back to camp, we surprised a bear. He ran about 30 yards, and stopped to watch us, while he panted in the afternoon heat.
We got back to camp early, and started working on an early bath and laundry. Since the Lake was our only source of water, I could not bring myself to take a dip in it, even though I knew others were (you have to walk your talk). Instead, we carried pot after pot of water up a small draw on the north end of the lake, and did our cleaning chores. Shortly, a pair of volunteer rangers showed up. I was concerned that we were violating some backcountry regulation, since our tents were relatively close to the lakeshore (even though they were in the only flat spots around). But the rangers seems pleased that we were going to such trouble to clean our clothes, and were pretty understanding. We talked a long time about previous trips, and goats in the Olympics, etc. Finally, the female of the pair just gave up and stripped off her clothes and took a dip. So much for keeping our drinking water clean. (Actually, with a pump, it doesn't really make a difference, and besides, it was nice to see a naked young lady.) Will showed up soon, and we had an early dinner. Susie and I had our spaghetti dinner and Dolph baked one of his delicious muffin cakes.
© Roger A. Jenkins, 1996