Melody and I had some lofty goals, coming into this backpacking trip wondering how 29 miles would be difficult. The elevation would only get to 3270 ft, and we were looking to pass by one lake, and really relax at the last one. Here is the overview of our trip, which seemed relatively simple. We were also thinking of passing through the mountain pass on the east side of Turquoise Lake, over some glaciers to Twin Lake, but we instead travelled the route seen below.
But, we really were wrong about this, and our first day backpacking really tested our mental and physical wills. It took us nearly 12 hours to hike only 4.53 miles from Telaquana Lake to our resting spot. This trip tested our navigation skills, as well as some wilderness preparedness. Melody and I did purchase some bear spray, in case of any unlikely meetings with grizzlies on our way to twin lake, but our first day really lacked any wildlife viewing opportunities.
We ended up going through some thick brush as well as very dense areas of trees, heading straight up from the lake below.
The weather really became humid and didn’t help with fogging of my lens. The cold nights and warmer days didn’t really help with any photo taking during the morning, but we were optimistic, really ready to get to Turquoise Lake that night.
Heading through more unmarked trails, which is a key factor to Lake Clark National Park. Since these parts of Alaska are very seldom travelled, we really saw no signs of trails or other animals while hiking from lake to lake.
Bad photo, but representation of what we walked through most of the way, just overgrown brush that you literally just push through. Might have been a good idea to have a machete, but Melody and I really try to keep the places we visit as untouched as possible. Leave no trace.
And up we kept going, which slowly wore on me and Melody. The bags were just way heavier, once the brush was pushing you back and really didn’t help our situation. Slowly we began only hiking half a mile at a time, due to brush and the weight of our packs.
Up, up we went, through a wonderfully green landscape.
And we ended up looking back, thinking we travelled farther than my GPS told me. But the views were fantastic, and definitely worth the grueling day we had. We really were in over our heads in a sense, the mental factor of backpacking really kicked in and tested our ability to go on.
With patches of tree and brush, we were always glad to see an opening in our travels.
New tree growth on the grounds below. It’s pretty amazing to see how nature really takes over sometimes.
And we passed through what we thought was the thickest of the brush, and took a break.
But there was always more, on our way up the steep incline.
There were places where the brush was low enough that we would take the easy road, and it was always a welcomed sight. Here is Melody taking a photo break! Notice how Melody ended up taking my tripod from me, just to alleviate some of the weight that I was carrying. I really was the slow one of the bunch, and my shoulders really started killing me since I couldn’t get my pack to really sit comfortably. Not a good idea to borrow a friends pack the day before without even testing it out!
And the view that Melody saw, I ended up taking a photo there too!
And off we go, up and up.
Another view back to Telaquana Lake, although the mileage was short that day, we did cover nearly 2000 ft of elevation that day. This may seem simple on a regular day hike, but backpacking through this brush makes the hike a lot slower than expected.
Melody heading through the trees and into the sky!
And another sky photo.
And we got through the worst of it, which took a few hours to do. We thought we would be home free at this time, so we took a little break before we would move on to what we thought would be Turquoise Lake.
Mel and Kel, Alaska edition.
The vegetation slowly changed to more tundra or lower growing plants, and it really did help with our pace. But every step ended up feeling like a walk through sand dunes. You would feel like you hit the ground, but your foot would fall another few inches as you put all your weight down. This added more effort in our hikes as well.
But this was definitely better than whacking through the brush below.
Break time! As we headed out of the wooded area below, there were less and less mosquitoes, so Melody was able to take her head net down for a few. These mosquitoes really are relentless in Alaska, biting through our long sleeve shirts as well as pants. I was always confused why I had some bites on my legs, since I would really never get any anywhere else in the continental US.
But soon we saw a stream that we had to cross, all the elevation we covered ended up mentally taking it’s toll, and Melody really didn’t want to head down to cross. But we had to, and more bushwhacking as well. This really tested Melody’s limits.
Looking for the easy way across.
We settled down for the night at the other side of the stream, after we passed the thickest of the brush. Melody and I were really exhausted from our 12 hours out in the wilderness. We wanted something to eat, and really needed the rest. We setup shop and called it a night. This is a shot from 9:30 pm that night, seemingly like it was still afternoon.
Our view for the night.
We ended up catching some shuteye, and I decided to attempt to wake up for a sunset, at around 12:30 am.
I got out for a quick sunset photo, waking up at 12:18am to catch one of the more colorful nights during our trip.
And as the clouds began to change colors, it was time to say goodnight and hope the next days wouldn’t be this bad. We ended up changing our itinerary, really hoping we could cover the 25 miles ahead in the next 5 days, but if we had more days like this, it would really push us to the brink and really test our physical limits. With no one there to help, we could only rely on each other to help motivate and push each other to the end. I also realized that night, that our bear spray had gone missing, the one thing we really could use for our safety, disappeared on our first day of travel. It really didn’t worry us, since there weren’t any grizzlies in sight that day, but boy were we wrong.