Over the weekend we dropped into Goat Lake, east of Mount Rainier. When I say dropped it’s almost literal as there are some steep-ish sections of the trail that are great for causing you to think about velocity calculations of free falling objects.
The trails have been well cleared and I cut several deadfalls from the route as well. My pack saw has been getting quite the workout this year.
The weather was wonderful both Saturday on the way in and Sunday for the return trip. The cerulean skies contrasted beautifully with the masses of wild flowers on display. The Lupines were especially numerous as were a yellow daisy-ish flower I couldn’t identify. Red hued indian paintbrush and white wild strawberry flowers also added wonderful bright spots to the flower and mountain show.
The requisite ear shot
This overnighter was a follow-on to last week’s Waptus trip with a goal of further reducing our pack weight and volume. With the ample grazing in the Goat Hole we only brought a few pounds of feed for each horse mostly as catch grain or treats for the beasts.
With the great weather and good grazing we were easily able to drop our carry in weight to 16 pounds per horse which included horse gear (highline equip, feed, etc) and human gear (hammocks, tarp, food, etc). By taking in only what we needed and little else we were able to stay quite comfortable and forego taking a pack animal.
On Saturday afternoon, after we had set up camp and were enjoying the area an outfitter string came in and we were able to see a different side of horse camping. Two wranglers, 8 client riders (is it fair to call them “dudes”?), and 6 well loaded pack mules. Wall tent, kitchen tables, queen size inflatable air mattresses (really, no kidding J) etc.
Other than a very real envy of the outfitter’s BIG coffee pot (All apologies to Folgers but their single use coffee tea bag things are a poor approximation of the real stuff) I really do believe that we were just as comfortable, prepared, and safe as the more heavily laden group, while having a much lighter impact and leaving less trace of our visit.
Actually scratch the last about having less trace, we left a larger impact of our visit as we had plenty of room to carry out the trash left behind by a what I’m guessing was a hunter group from last year. The campsite we used had lots of trash including tons of bullet casings and the remains of aluminum cans. Last time I checked cans don’t burn so why, why, why do people insist on trying to burn cans? Crush the silly things and take them home, arrgh.
At any rate it was a super trip and test of the light weight horse camping strategies that I’m working on. As always click here for more info on the location and you can also visit here for my thoughts on horse camping without pack stock.