Monday, July 29
“Aha!” I thought as I read the signup sheet. “Only 10 miles, and 1200' elevation difference. A nice, short hike for a rest day.” I began to worry just a bit when we were mid way along the Upper New Fork lake, and Bob stopped to study the map. He announced his “small” mistake — looked more like 2000' difference. Oh well, we should still get back in good time. I had traded my morning duty for Chris Shuraleff’s evening duty so she could take Ray up to Jackson for the day and not have to worry about having to be back early.
At the junction beyond the lake, we turned left onto the Lowline Trail. After crossing a small beaver dam, all doffed their shoes to ford the New Fork River. It took a little searching to pick up the trail on the south side — most of the traffic apparently uses the stock ford just downstream. In fact, while we were busy crossing, a pack-train passed us using the other ford. We made our way through the willows, trying to stay out of the muckier, stinkier patches. Out in the open on the other side, we encountered a heard of cattle, fashionably attired with blue ear-tags.
Then the trail got steep — and became covered with fresh road-apples. Guess horses like to do-their-thing when the going gets tough. A second pack-train passed us. “Oh boy! More fresh apples!”
We climbed on, entering a pine and spruce forest. We caught an occasional glimpse of the New Fork Lakes. (There are very few big vistas on this trail.) Finally we reached the top, only to drop back down a bit to the junction with the Double Top Mountain Trail.
Near mutiny ensued as we passed through two park-like alpine meadows, each time mistaking them for our destination. At last we reached mountain-top Rainbow Lake, with its rocky back-drop. After a late lunch, only Don performed the Obsidian ritual testing-of-the-waters. Bob graciously accepted a bit of good-natured kidding.
Then back down the trail we dashed — Carol had evening duties too. Back at the New Fork River we took the stock ford — it’s a bit shorter than the “people” ford. Got back to camp with just enough time for a quick shower!
A look at the camp booklet shows this hike as 13 miles, 2400' elev. difference. (My altimeter showed nearly 3000' elev. gain.) John’s tip: “As long as you’re going that far, do the extra distance to Double Top Mountain and beyond to get those big vistas!” Rainbow seekers were Norma Lockyear, Jackie Cornell, Wayne Deeter, Carol Scherer, Don Bienvenue, Chris Minarich, led by Bob “Captain Bligh” Burnett.
— Wayne Deeter
— photos by Wayne Deeter