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Wind Rivers 1997
Dickinson Park to Cirque of the Towers

Short hike to Jumpin' Fish Lake

Wednesday, August 20 Up at 7:15 am. It had been a cool night, but the morning was comfortable. After breakfast, Ray volunteered to guide us over to Papoose Lake, since he felt we really needed to see it. He was right, it was a lovely setting. There is a great campsite on the north side of the lake, and I would recommend it for those folks seeking solitude, since it is several hundred meters off the main drag, and in some ways, the views are much more impressive than from Lizard Head Meadows, because you are much closer to the huge granite walls. We were back by 9:30 am, and outta camp by 10:18 am (it always taking me longer to pack up than it does Susie). It only took us 80 minutes to get down to our first ford of the North Fork. At this point, the river is more creek-like, and the crossing is very easy, albeit wet. Susie and I stopped for lunch, and felt like we were "sitting by the side of the road and being a friend to man." First a couple of guys who had been camped in Lizard Head Meadows showed up, and then Ray, then Barbara and BJ, and then a couple with a golden retriever. The dog was absolutely gung ho about diving into the water, and his owners tried to explain that they would not be crossing the creek until AFTER lunch. Somehow, the dog just could not understand. He kept wagging his tail, and looking back to his masters as if to say: "Is it time now? Is it, is it?"

It is about a mile and a quarter to where the Pinto Park trail cuts off and heads to the high country. Susie and I moved on and then turned up the PP trail. It was about 250 feet of climbing over a half mile or so to get the unnamed lake that was our destination. The lake is not really easily visible from the trail as one approaches. You sorta have to know that it is there, leave the trail, and find it. Susie and I arrived about 1:30 pm (OK: 3 hours including a long stop for lunch is not much hiking, but that is acceptable sometimes), and the remainder of our crew trickled in. The woods surrounding the lake is fairly open, and Susie found us a nice flat spot, although it was not by the lake shore - there really were no good campsites near the lake, but that is probably fine, since it acts to reduce impact. By the time we got our tent set up and help find some other suitable tent sites for our buddies, it was nearly 3 pm, the definitive hour at which one no longer has to feel that one has to accomplish anything more constructive that day. Susie and I laid around in the tent, looked at maps, and planned our day hike for the next day. We went down and took a warm, wonderful bath by the lake shore. The lake seemed very shallow, and the near shore was only a couple of feet deep, allowing the sun to warm the water quite nicely. I felt compelled, after cleaning up, to go for a swim. Now mind you, this is not like the Gulf Coast in summer water temperature, but for a lake in the Winds, it was pretty darn warm.

Ray and Barbara were feeling ambitious, so they hiked on up to Pinto park, which was about a thousand feet of elevation gain, while I spent huge sums of energy chatting with BJ. Susie decided she would check out the inside of our tent to exterminate any bugs that had gotten in. I can only figure there were a lot of bugs - although there did not seem to be many in the woods around this lake - since she was in there for such a long time and was so quiet. Dinner was Cajun Beans and rice with dried ham, a pretty filling dinner, with Cherry Chocolate Mousse for dessert. After dinner, we all headed down to the lake side, sat on rocks, and watched the evening's entertainment: fish jumping in the lake. I have sat around a lot of mountain lakes over the past 20 years or so, and I must say that I have never seen so many fish jumping to feed. It was amazing. I could not figure out if bugs were swarming near the surface, which enticed the fish to feed, or if life was just good for these fish. They were small fish, but they all had a lot of energy. We decided against a fire this evening: there were no fire rings or any sign that hikers had camped anywhere near here, the forest had a lot of pine needles on the floor, and it was not obvious what the weather would be doing in a couple of hours. The sky was partially blue, but had big clouds in it. It was just a good excuse to get into bed early. As I lay in bed, I started reflecting on my performance over the course of this trip. The first few days, when I would hike uphill, I was on the verge of being dizzy. I just could not get any air, and I kept wanting to use my asthma inhaler to enable those last few molecules of oxygen into my lungs. My pack was not excessively heavy on this trip, and it has been hard to figure out what was wrong. In contrast, today, I felt great. I had plenty of energy, and even on the steep pitches today coming up to camp, I did not feel the need to stop and rest frequently. I can only conclude that for me, the acclimation makes a huge difference in my performance. Last night was my fourth night of the trip. Maybe it just takes my lungs a longer time to adjust.

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Roger A. Jenkins, 2001