This exploratory backpack trip was a true exploration.. all the way from exploring the roads leading into the trailhead at Elk Lake because road signs were totally missing, to exploring the trails around Battle Ax Mountain and Twin Lakes because trail signs were also nonexistent. In addition to the adventure of not knowing where we were or how we should get there, the road to Elk Lake is so rough that it took 60 full minutes for the Corolla to travel the 5 mile distance (calculated minus several course corrections due to lack of signage, of course). The ranger did tell us that the road has actually been improved from years past, since it had to be smoothed out a bit to haul in a latrine a few years back. One would suspect that our exploration was in great solitude, given the difficulty in getting there. However, it was apparent that the hidden nature of our destination didn't stop others from also enjoying the trails or the campgrounds around Elk Lake. The plan was to backpack into Twin Lakes and camp there and ditch the packs to hike up Battle Ax Mountain on the way out. Well, seeing as how lost we were 'cause of no signs and all, we did see all of the landmarks intended... just not in the planned order. After backpacking up 1700 ft to the top of Battle Ax Mountain, then back down 800 ft, we decided we had had enough of that and ditched our packs by a lovely stream. We hiked without a load down another 800 ft in elevation to Twin Lakes, where we were surprised to find several parties already camping. They, of course, had entered via other trailheads that did have signs along the route and had beat us to our goal. At any rate, it was a great adventure and our newest member, Hannah Fleischmann, not only had boundless energy, but she brought organic veggies and eggs from the farm to cook up a real treat at our campsite along the stream.Members: Becky Lipton, Hannah Fleischmann.
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