Considering the sun didn't feel like hitting the tents until about 0900, it wasn't until then when I braved the cold. Cold, cold. Upper 20's or so. I wasn't really designed for anything lower than 81, so it's always rough dealing with that nonsense. Quickly made some good thick coffee (shade grown of course) and downed that like a maniacal fool. Oh yes, the good stuff.
Because of the painfully cold temps, it took us a while to get our crap together. Really, talk about leisurely. Granted, we didn't get the tents up until pretty late the night before, but still.
I'm totally embarrassed to admit that we didn't get to the trailhead until 1:45 in the afternoon. It's true and uncalled for, but that's what happened. An obvious note: this is NOT an ideal time to start an almost 9 mile hike. But hey, we did it. And what a freaking gorgeous hike. The elevation gain was pretty good - about 2500 feet in the first 4 miles, but like I've said, I kinda prefer uphill. Also, the wild flowers were still blooming like it was spring or something, pretty niiice!
The trail eventually leveled out to a fantastic view of the Pioneer Mountains. Hot damn, talk about a pretty scene! The tallest peak was just over 12,000 feet. Ate lunch at the top while oohhh'ing and ahhh'ing.
On the hike back, which was a lot of pretty knee-jarring downhill but also a significant amount of uphill too, I was regretting dragging the extra weight of the 500 mm lens. But alas! There were more PIKAS! (they deserve the caps). Pika heaven, actually. Heard a ton of 'em, but took a while to actually spot one. He posed for about three photos and then went into hiding.
The hike back took longer than expected and we got back just as the sun was setting, so that was a little too close for comfort. No harm done though and what an excellent hike! Once we were done, it was (vegan) pizza and beer time. Of course. Then back to the freezing frozen tents (actually, it wasn't as cold as the night before, luckily). Scenic Sunday Nature Notes