|S/SW on the Norbeck Trail|
10:29am - We are hiking through spectacular pine scenery, with sandy gravel under foot and blue skies above. As we hike further south, we see more and more evidence of the clear cutting that is being done to prevent the spread of the pine beetle infestation that is an epidemic, killing trees by the thousands of acres. Whole large areas of pines have been cut to the ground and gathered into large heaps. Where there must have been wooded areas with various smaller plant understory is now exposed to the harsh sun and is barren.
|Pine and Granite everywhere|
|Cathedral Spires from the North|
As we trudge along the gravelly trail I am continually amazed at the beauty of the landscape. It is so completely different from anything I am used to around home that it is especially gratifying to be here. Without the pine beetle blight, it would even more spectacular, which is hard to imagine.
|Approaching Little Devil's Tower from the South|
|Climbing Little Devil's Tower hand over hand|
11:15am - I am perhaps halfway up the climbing part of LDT, and have reached a sort of plateau from which I have magnificent views in almost all directions. The views are like those from Harney Peak, if a little less high and a little less grand. Spectacular nonetheless. Dave and Ted are somewhere up above me. I assume they have reached the top by now as I am poking along in no hurry whatsoever. I expect to see them coming back down at some point soon. As for me, this is as far as I go. I tried going further but just don't feel up to it. I am disappointed, but there is no shame in my performance today. I have hiked a bunch of miles in more demanding terrain and heat than I am used to, and am happy with what I have accomplished so far. And we are by no means done, with a few miles left before we are back at Sylvan Lake.
|View from most of the way up Little Devil's Tower|
|Dave and Ted summit Little Devil's Tower|
We reach the trail head for this trail at exactly noon, which means it is a quarter mile back paralleling the road to get to Sylvan Lake and where we started.
12:13pm - Back at our starting point. We are hot and tired and the thought of getting into a cold mountain lake sounds wonderful, so that is what we do. I make sure I don't have my phone in my pocket, and go right into the water in my hiking shorts. The water is cold but delightful, and after a little while everything numbs up enough that you forget how cold it is. Leo is already in the water when we arrive, none the worse for wear, but glad to have his hat back.
As far as I can tell we covered about 9 miles in exactly 5 hours, with stops, lots of picture taking and a lunch at the top of Harney Peak. If you take out lunch time, we made a pace of only a little over two miles per hour, but given the ruggedness of the terrain and the amount of time we spent gawking at the scenery and me taking pictures, I think we did fine. I think this is probably the best day of hiking I have ever done (in every respect). What a thrill.
Next...The rest of Day 4: Burgers, Laundry, Camp, and a Storm.