We spent one whole glorious day there. THIS, in my opinion, is what backpacking SHOULD be about. Husband and I did an easy little pack-less(!) hike around the bigger lake. We ran into Garth and the two guys managed to scoop up some ungrateful trout, that were trapped in a small pond, and release them into the lake.
It was a day to nap, read, wander, and ..... to my delight and relief ... shower and do laundry! Yes!
Oh, let me tell you about my shower, for it was a triumph. Awesome Brother Larry gave me the idea to bring an empty milk jug. It's weightless, free, and works for splashing on just enough water. And a small shammy .... the fake-leather type of cloth that you dry cars with .... makes a perfectly adequate, and quick-drying towel. I even practiced at home and found that a half-gallon size jug is big enough. I carried that milk jug tied to the outside of my pack for three days anticipating this shower, but when I arrived after our last long hike, I discovered I had lost it somewhere on the trail. No problem, our water bladder worked just as well.
Using clothes pins, I attached one of those foil emergency blankets to some tree limbs so that the breeze blew into it forming a semi-circle enclosure. The foil reflected the sun rays, creating a solar-heated shower stall. Obviously I set it up well away from camp, and then planted Husband nearby as a guard.
I'm dwelling on my shower-in-the-woods here, to make a point. Many die-hard outdoorsman might scoff. But in many of my late-in-life, out-in-the-wild adventures, the ONE thing that causes me angst, is no shower. To me, it's a darn important morale booster and worth the effort. I am willing to try just about anything hard .... almost .... if I can clean up afterwards. And if there is absolutely no way, then THANK HEAVENS for baby wipes. And that's all I'm saying about that.
So let me introduce you to the goats.
We started seeing them in the distance several miles before reaching Twin Lakes. At first they were just little white dots on the hillside. But they became a constant presence while we camped. They wandered into and through our camp regularly, too timid to get very close to us, but very interested in what we might have for them to eat. One goat didn't notice me as I sat on a log working a crossword puzzle. It came within a few feet of me, so I said hello. It stopped, looked at me with alarm, and ran off. They frequently liked to appear when someone was cooking. Dinnertime brought the whole herd.
We were told to heed nature's call a good distance from our tents and to not leave anything sweaty, like socks laying about, because the goats are attracted to salt .... take THAT thought wherever you choose. And at night, after we were bedded down, they would romp and cavort through our camp, while I worried about what items I had left outside that they were probably eating or carting off.
"Great!" I thought. "If it's not wind and snow at night, it's goats!"
But after the first goat-night, I learned they weren't interested in our non-sweaty, non-edibles. So after that, they became a fun novelty.
It's quite something to behold when rational, grown men turn into school boys when given the opportunity. In a remote, non-civilized and far-from-home environment, mature men can somehow lose all good sense and think that when you're among wild mountain goats, there simply MUST be goat-roping. Now I won't say whether or not it happened, but there are some goats that frequent Twin Lakes that may never forget that day in September. I WILL say that neither man nor beast was injured while we hiked and camped along the Elkhorn Crest trail -- other than some minor, but well-deserved rope burns for one un-named hiker, and a possible, but temporary, loss of dignity for one goat. For all we know, that goat is probably milking the excitement of that one brief but lively evening, and bragging for all it's worth to the other goats.
I knew what lay between me and the end of all life's hardships, were those switch-backs-from-hell, that had to be ascended that final morning. At the top, and a few miles beyond, was the truck. The TRUCK. A soft seat that would carry me to actual toilets, to a non-dehydrated meal including ice cream, and to home. The hike that day was quick, enjoyable, and the views were killer. Conversation was good and it was soon over. I even ran, with my pack, the last twenty feet to the truck.
Post MM hike thoughts: The night I got home, my words were, and this is a direct quote ....
"Over my dead body will I do that again." (A totally illogical statement, but you get the point.)
But in a day or two, I was already thinking of a few things I'd do differently next time .... mainly I want a bigger tent for the two of us. Husband's respect for me and all my preliminary homework had grown ten-fold. I insisted I needed a trowel. He said to just use a stick. But guess who used my trowel? And guess who also enjoyed my outdoor shower? And guess who has asked me to look for a pair of weightless Croc-type shoes for him, like the pair I brought for me, so that I could escape from my boots now and then. One of the guys came to me for advice on how to reduce some of the weight in his pack and kidded about me teaching a class. Husband even said he will make a light weight backpacking latrine for me! And I have already sewn some new stuff-sacks and a hammock-type chair that uses campsite-gleaned sticks for support, that I plan to bring next time .....
..... yes. Next time. I cannot let all this new and hard-earned expertise go to waste. And besides, I have a WHOLE YEAR to plan, prepare, gather and test new ideas, and hang out at REI. It just doesn't get better than that.
P.S. Thank you Steve, Allen, Garth, Michael, Tom, and Rob, for allowing me to tag along. I felt welcomed and included, every step of the way. And thank you to the LOML for carrying our tent, filtering our water, and keeping me warm on those shivery nights.