DAY 3: Lemah Creek to Waptus River (14 miles)
This morning I was the first one awake in my campsite, just a little before 6. I quietly got myself organised. Within about half an hour the other campers were emerging and I chatted with a thru-hiker while eating my oatmeal.
I was on trail just after 7. My first mile was relatively flat as I followed a fork of Lemah Creek northward. The sky had clouded over in the night and the hot temperature of the day before had broken.
I passed a gorgeous waterfall about a mile along, and then started my climb for the day.
Today’s trail would take me 2500 feet up, through an alpine cirque, and then 2500 feet down. The climb was about six miles long and followed long well-graded switchbacks. After a mile or so of montane forest, I broke out into an old forest fire area.
The morning had been overcast and it was at this point that the rain started. Thankfully it wasn’t too heavy. I stopped briefly to put the rain cover on my pack but decided I didn’t really need a raincoat. It had likely been weeks since the trail saw any rain and there was definitely a wonderful “smell of rain” in the air.
I took a break about 5 miles along where the trail broke out into an alpine meadow space. The shower had eased off and I enjoyed a chat with a fellow section hiker.
The next couple miles were a lovely ramble through the high alpine. The trees were stunted and there was lots of colourful heather. There was a nice pond near the high point of the trail, nestled amongst high peaks. Another half mile along I stopped at another pond to get some water.
My initial plan had been to stay there for lunch but the weather had other plans for me. The skies opened up with a pretty good rain shower. I knew it wasn’t worth sitting around and getting drenched so I had a couple snacks and then was back on trail.
The last alpine section took me along a ridge and then through a saddle. Thankfully the rain started to ease and the sky was definitely brightening.
I kept going for another couple of miles until I reached a great campsite overlooking the valley below. I enjoyed my lunch, and got to dry my gear out a bit.
The last few miles of my day were marked by lots of downhill switchbacks and clearing skies. Even the smoke started to clear out as fresher air moved in behind the rain storm.
My campsite for the night was on a bluff beside the Waptus River. I was the first hiker to arrive so got first pick of where to pitch my tent. I chose a spot away where I’d have a good view of the stars from my sleeping bag. With the clearer air I was hoping to see some meteors once night fell.
Just before dinner time a couple other hikers rolled into the camp. I had been leap-frogging with them all day. They invited me to join them for dinner and we enjoyed a great chat.
I didn’t stay up too late, crawling into my sleeping bag just after 8. As much as I tried I really couldn’t keep my eyes open to wait for dark. I figured I’d “rest” my eyes and hope to wake up in the night to watch the meteors. Instead I was startled awake around 11:30 to a damp mist on my face! Rain clouds had moved in, so I jumped out my tent to get the fly over my tent, then snuggled back in just as the rain got going. Stargazing would have to wait for another night.