(9/23/06) Written by Alex G.
Photo credits: Jeremy M, Lucas S, and Glen O
Kearsarge Lakes... a fairy land?! ... at least that was my first thought when I saw the posting for the trip in the PerfectPace website. As Glen described it, it was going to be one of the most beautiful trips for this year. A Perfect place for perfect pacers.
The main obstacle was to get close to the sierras in the first place. The trip from San Diego took around 7 hours... We started the journey at 7:25 am from Kensington and stopped for a "brief" period of time to buy cages at a Sports Chalet store. Cages?!?! Apparently Glen needs new ones regularly. Don't ask me what he puts inside them!
We finally made it to the town where we met Amy and Lucas coming from LA. After eating burgers and milkshakes, we had enough energy to conquer the mountains... not really to conquer a flat tire though. What a surprise!?! Yes, Glen's XXX5 had a flat and it was as flat as it gets. Changing the tire was no big deal. The problem was really to place the old flat tire in the right place where the new one laid just seconds before. Many "clean" hands were used to try to solve the problem, which was finally resolved... we gave up. Old tire wins! Ouch!
No problem, we are on our way to the visitor's center just north of town, right? Oops, apparently it is south of town, or would it be east? South wins! Let's go back! Finally, after exchanging bear vaults and buying a skunk for Glen, we are on our way to the trailhead and campsite.
And, let the feast begin... after setting up tents... and some socializing... it was time for a gourmet dinner organized by master chef Andy. Different kinds of home made humus (even with roasted peaches) and vegetables as appetizers, vegetarian kebabs, specialty burgers, and desert & Wow, what a feast!! Obviously, a very "light" dinner.
After an uneventful night (at least in my tent)... no bear attacks, snow, wind,... it was time to pack and get ready for the backpacking part of our journey. All 10 perfect pacers met at trail head for last minute instructions from Glen. And, let the show begin!
PerfectPacers were rushing up the trail. After some time, we all met at first stop by the first lake in which we could get more water. Glen, Andy, John, Ryan, and Jeremy disappeared in the thin air, followed by Jimm. Amy and I took the time to appreciate the beauty of Heart Lake. Lucas and Mick followed along. But, ah, ha! Jeremy caught Mick taking a short-cut on the mountain through his spy binoculars. Mick's cover was blown. Should Mick loose his chances from getting the Kearsarge PP medal? We shall see.
We all meet at Kearsarge Pass... and after observing a group of Chinese tourists go up Mt Gould as if they were taking a walk in the park, PerfectPacers get motivated to follow suit. In no time, Chinese or not is left behind, PerfectPacers are running up the hill, jumping boulders, and catching their breath... to set the PP flag on top of Mt Gould where the view is spectacular (so I was told). Some PerfectPacers, including me, had the hardest job of staying in the passage in the meantime socializing with all the hikers that were passing by... in a way, someone needed to do the PerfectPace PR in Glen's absence. Lucas took many pictures. Mick got warm in the sun. And then(after what is seemed an eternity), there they were, Andy leading the pack down the mountain, PerfectPacers skiing down Mt Gould as if the stones were soft snow powder, leaving a trail of dust behind them.
Time to catch breath and start the journey downhill towards Kearsarge Lakes. Wow! Turquoise colored lakes surrounded by pine trees, meadows, and granite mountains. We set camp next to a stream and one of the biggest lakes on the foot of the white-colored peaks. Lucas and I set up to pump water from the stream. Only Mick's pump takes 1 hour to fill up a pint! Time is still, nature is beautiful, and Glen is fly fishing... or at least pretending... we were all counting on tons of fish for dinner (as well as the bears around us), but I guess who needs fresh fish if we have dried food, right? Anyway, let's forget about fish and get in the water for a nice swim in the warm waters... ouch, did I say warm waters... well, for a polar bear, maybe, but not for Glen and Jeremy who looked like they would need more than courage to get in. Andy did not think twice and put an end to their ordeal... splash... splash... did I hear people screaming?!?! Poor Amy, trying to study... impossible! Better join the commotion... or would it be the coronation?
At night, we all talked and shared stories around the fire... well, to be precise, around the candle. Anyway, it was incredible to watch the moon come over the granite peaks, shining a white glow over the campsite and the lake. A very quiet night... Apparently, however, Jimm had a very deep mystical experience: a bear, disguised as Mick, was roaming around his tent making all kinds of noises (nope, it was not Jeremy burping!). Also, as if from a dream, Andy and Glen experienced a rain of pebbles. Mick had just gotten his Kearsarge PP medal back and was redeemed.
Next morning, time to warm up... green tea, hot cocoa, oatmeal, jet boiler noises everywhere. We were getting ready to say goodbye to the lady of the lake. In any case, she probably left to another lake after all the screaming from the day before. Time to climb up our way to the pass. PerfectPacers racing up and down... John and Ryan stayed behind for exploring more of nature on their own.
After getting in the car, time to have some real food down the road... more burgers and milk shakes. Fed and tired, time to say good-bye and drive back to San Diego and LA. Another great PerfectPace trip had come to an end.