Yesterday we took a half-day hike from Angel Lake, at the top of the canyon, to Smith Lake, a high mountain glacial cirque. It seems as though all of the hiking that we’re doing lately is at 8,000 feet and above. This hike started out through a landscape thick with sagebrush, which smells divine in the warm afternoon sun. We passed by only three other people on the trail: a vegetarian fisherman who throws back everything he catches, and a couple in full camouflage gear who were hunting with muskets (they were empty-handed, as well).
This afternoon we drove a few miles down the mountain, through the dinky town of Wells, and then several miles on the worst road we’ve ever been on. It was the pothole road from hell, a rollercoaster of deep gullies and pits. Once we were on it, there was no turning back until we reached the end. So we continued on, at a speed of less than 5 mph, then parked and hiked a half-mile into a beautiful canyon. Crossing the bridge over the creek was interesting. The hot spring, though, was a wonderful, huge swimming pool.
Magpies, ravens, and mountain chickadees surround us in this campground, and the night before last we awoke to a unique sound that we’d never before heard: a long screech, followed by a soft “whoo-whoo-whoo—whoo-whoo-whoo.” The calling went on for at least a half-hour, and we were certain it was an owl, but which one? Eric finally figured it out: the screech was a female short-eared owl, and the soft hooting response was the male. We saw a couple of them the next evening swooping near the road in the dusky evening light as they were hunting in the tall grasses.