30 June 2015. Day Three: Brockway(ish) to Painted Rock. ~11 miles.
Need to catch up? Start at the beginning: Day One.
We really hit our stride this morning. Great weather and easy terrain put everyone in a good mood, that and the promise of swimming in Watson Lake. In my original itinerary, Watson Lake was to have been our destination for the day, but we’re ahead of schedule and arrive at the lake around noon. The water is the perfect temperature, and there’s even a big raft that someone made out of old logs. Stealth Baby is happy for the chance to get down, run around, throw rocks in the water, and watch tadpoles and frogs. We even see a snake swimming across the pond. It looked just like a garter snake but I’ve never seen a garter snake swim before!
We give ourselves a long siesta, about four hours of resting, splashing in the water, and doing chores. Since Watson is our only water source of the day, we use this opportunity to wash dishes and diapers, cook a big lunch (mashed potatoes and refried beans!), and get ourselves a little bit clean.
The lake has a reputation as a party spot; a forest road runs right past it, and there is a small campground with picnic tables, fire rings, and bear lockers. Moreover, there are bottle caps and little bits of broken glass everywhere, which makes watching SB a bit of a headache. He even manages to find some used TP in the bushes–by far the nastiest trash he’s found so far. Catholes, people! Put it in catholes! Nice deep ones, please, far away from the water…
As the afternoon wears on, the lake, which we had all to ourselves at first, grows busier and busier. Lots of kids and lots of dogs. Klein is pretty worn out and not in much of a mood to play. The longer we hike, the more defensive he becomes of his territory. By four o’clock PPL and I are tired of refereeing the kid and the dog, so we decide it’s time to pack up. Our goal is to hike another 5 miles of so up to Painted Rock, where there is, according to our map, a nice vista and spots suitable for camping. We ready for the quiet and relative solitude of the trail.
On the trail to Painted Rock, we meet tons of mountain bikes. Apparently, this stretch is very popular for a quick afternoon ride. The trail here feels much more like bike trail: hard-packed dirt with steeply sloping sides. The erosion patterns made by wheels are so different than those made by feet. Luckily, Klein is much better with bikes than he is with people on foot. In theory, bikers are supposed to yield to hikers, but in practice it is almost always easier for us to move off the trail and let them pass.
The views from Painted Rock are really nice; unfortunately the mosquitoes are even worse than last night. Little do we know, those bugs are only a taste of what’s to come once we hit Desolation Wilderness.