At the beginning of the year, I penciled in a number of backpacking, hiking, and camping trips for 2015. For June, that included daddy-daughter trips with each of my girls and a father-sons outing. June finally arrived and with the first week, I took my four-year-old daughter, Raylee, up to where I had enjoyed my first ever backpacking experience. Silver Lake.
Tuesday - June 2, 2015
I had actually planned to car camp with Raylee somewhere off the road past Tibble Fork Reservoir up American Fork Canyon. Being the middle of the week, I figured it wouldn't be as busy up the popular canyon that is otherwise very crowded on weekends and holidays. We would then drive on up to Silver Lake Flat the next morning for a day hike up to Silver Lake. There are actually three lakes within close proximity with "Silver" in their name: Silver Lake Flat, Silver Lake, and Silver Glance Lake. Just over a couple ridges lies yet another Silver Lake in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Needless to say, there are a lot of Silver Lakes out there.
We drove up the dirt road a couple of miles only to find every suitable spot already occupied. I was surprised, and yet I shouldn't have been. AF Canyon is close enough such that people who work down in the valley can drive an RV up and spend a week or two while still commuting back down the canyon to work and then back up the canyon in the afternoon to recreate and play. Not wanting to go too far up the road, we decided to turn back. We now had a decision to make. Pay $21 to settle into a developed site at Granite Flat Campground or throw on our packs and backpack it up Silver Lake for the night. We opted for the latter.
So up to Silver Lake Flat we went, where the trailhead for Silver Lake awaited. I was excited. My first ever backpacking experience was a hike up to Silver Lake. I had gone with a friend not long after graduating high school. I was hooked, and I've learned A LOT since then. This would be my first visit back to Silver Lake since that trip 15 years ago.
|Silver Lake Flat from Silver Lake Trailhead|
It was about 7 pm by the time we hit the trail. I had hoped to get up in the area much earlier in the day, but after running some errands and stopping at a couple stores along the way, time escaped us. Silver Lake was only 2 miles away, but there was a lot of elevation to gain and I had a four year old with me. Could we beat the dark of night?
Raylee loves flowers. Raylee loves to pick flowers and give them away. It's an ongoing lesson in trying to teach her to leave them be so they can live a little longer and be there for others to enjoy them. She still had to sneak a few off here and there.
The hike up went pretty well. Raylee had a little pick with just her clothing and a water bottle in it. Still, after about a mile, she began to show some fatigue and I turned her backpack into a frontpack for me. This allowed her to move a little quicker.
Due to the time, we did not pause much for pictures. There was one spot that opened up to a great view of Timpanogos off in the distance with Silver Lake Flat lying below. Daylight was fast vacating us.
We reached camp just after 9 pm. Darkness was now settling in at full force. Still, we were proud to have made it without having to break out the head lamps until we reached camp. Again, I was surprised to find not just one but 2 groups also overnighting it around the lake.
Despite a no campfire restriction in the Lone Peak Wilderness area and signs posted at the trailhead and wilderness boundary, neither group seemed to care. Our site also had an established fire ring and there was a good pile of half burnt wood already there. Normally I would respect the rules, but since the wood was already half burnt, I explained to Raylee that we'd go ahead and burn up the rest of it since it would actually help to clean up the site a bit. We did the good deed and rewarded ourself with some s'mores in the process.
The moon was out amongst a clear sky and was nearly a full one providing some nice light for my little pocket point and shoot camera to make use of its "Starry Sky" mode.
We slept through the night without the fly. Again, the moon provided the perfect night light.
Wednesday - June 3, 2015
|Our campsite at dawn|
Morning provided some nice reflection shots with Silver lake.
After some breakfast, I decided that since we were already up at Silver Lake, it'd be worth a "little" day hike up to Silver Glance Lake. The motivation for Raylee was to take up our hammocks, find some nearby trees to hang them on, and do some painting. Along the way, we'd see a bit of paintbrush. Don't worry, we brought our own.
Raylee was getting a bit tired from the altitude we were quickly gaining. When we reached the snow line, I told her she could take a long rest at the edge of the snow. I let her rest while I continued the short little distance to get a shot of Silver Glance. It was still frozen over and the snow would probably have been a bit much for her to comfortably hike through.
I told her we could hang our hammock on the way back down and she was happy with the news that she didn't have to hike up hill any more. On the way back down, we went off trail a short distance and found a nice little spot to hang our hammocks and enjoy the view of Silver Lake below us.
We also tried our hands at some water color paintings.
Hungry for lunch, we made our way back to our camp.
After eating up some lunch and getting our packs ready for the trek back down, we explored around the other edge of the lake for a little bit.
Raylee was excited to find some more snow. It was a welcome retreat from the escalating afternoon heat.
Alas, it was time to head back down. There's a nice waterfall dropping out of the lake that makes for a pretty sight.
More wildflowers taunted at Raylee but she did a better job at leaving them be on the way back down.
We had to pause again at the switchback in the trail that overlooks Timpanogos and Silver Lake Flat.
From about this point, I was not only carrying Raylee's pack again for her, but her body as well. She insisted her legs were too tired. I began to regret the attempt we made for Silver Glance Lake. Not only did it tire her out more, but it took time away from being able to get some fishing in at Silver Lake Flat. We could have taken our fishing poles up to Silver Lake, but with all the other gear I was carrying for Raylee and me, I had chosen to keep the fishing gear in the car.
We reached the wilderness boundary. The car was close.
We reached the car at about 3 pm. My step-brother was getting married that evening at 5:30 so we needed to be on our way home to get ready for that. Raylee was disappointed that fishing would have to wait for another day. Little did we know that day would be much sooner than anticipated.
When I went to pull my keys out of my pack, they were not there. It didn't take long to discover that I had locked them up in my car and left them in the ignition in accessory mode. The night before, after I had put my keys onto my pack, I realized I had not rolled up the car windows and I didn't want to leave them down as an open invitation for any bears to come help themselves to the extra food we had. So I hastily pulled out my keys to roll my windows up and must have gotten distracted by something because in the rush to get on the trail, I made the mistake of forgetting to pull out my keys and take them with me. I have a way of getting into my car when it is locked, so I was able to resolve the first problem, a locked car, rather quickly. Now it was time to solve the second problem, a dead battery.
There was another couple getting set to leave the parking area themselves. I asked them for a jump. We tried for a good 15-20 minutes or more with no success at getting my engine to turn over. I did not want to keep them, but they were so gracious and offered to give Raylee and I a ride down to the Timpanogos Cave Visitor Center where we could call Jessica to have her come and pick us up. We accepted.
Unfortunately, this all lead to us missing the wedding of my step-brother. We were able to make it to the reception though. I pondered over what my next steps were going to be to get back up to the trailhead and try to rescue my car. After the reception, I found out my brother had driven his own SUV up from Arizona. We made plans to return the next day. My dad would join us and I let Raylee know she was welcome to come with so she could do some fishing. On to the unanticipated day 3...
Thursday - June 4, 2015
My dad had to take another stepbrother of mine to the airport in the morning, so it wasn't until later in the afternoon before were able to return to my car. We picked up a new battery along the way, just in case it would be needed, but I also had the thought that I should get a gallon of distilled water because I couldn't remember the last time I had checked the water levels in my battery. When we arrived back at the trailhead, I checked the water in my car's battery, and sure enough, it was looking pretty dry. I topped off the water columns and the car was successfully jumped right away.
We spent a bit more time lounging around and Raylee and I were able to get a bit of fishing in. Nothing caught though.
Elevation Low: 7539 feet
Elevation High: 9894 feet