What I Learned at Deadfall Lakes
On Memorial Day, my mother-in-law and Logan and I hiked to Deadfall Lakes, which is nestled in the Eddy Mountains in northern California.
We started out at the Deadfall Meadow trailhead, and because of the recent rains, there was water everywhere, the meadow was a muddy mess, and we had to be careful not to slip on the trail. We crossed two small streams and then a creek as we walked up the trail.
The first two streams were easy to cross by stepping on rocks and logs. The creek, however, was a different story. The water was three feet high and the logs weren't stable, so we took our socks and shoes off and slowly crept across the creek. I held onto branches and a log, and my mother-in-law held onto Logan's hand.
As I crossed the creeks, I thought to myself, This is why hiking in jeans and cotton isn't smart! If I fall in, I'm going to be cold and wet all day. At least I have wool socks on. It's time to find a few pieces of hiking clothes.
Thankfully, I didn’t fall into the creek. We put our shoes back on and then walked onward. From the meadow to the lake, we walked 2 miles, and according to my FitBit data, we climbed 95 floors! I loved climbing up, up, and up. However, we should have looked at the topography on the map closer. It would have been easier for all of us to walk to the lake via the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).
When we arrived at the lake, we enjoyed a late lunch. There were dozens of chipmunks who wanted to steal our food, so we had to watch out because they kept sneaking up on us.
The walk out was a breeze because we didn't have to wade through creeks or a muddy marsh. We simply walked out on the PCT, and the trail was flat and well maintained. I'm sure thankful for the PCT trail maintenance volunteers.
Our route out of the lake, however, bypassed the meadow where our car was parked. Once we reached the trailhead, one of us had to walk down a steep road to our car. I knew Logan and I could make the walk, but I was feeling anxious about whether or not my mother-in-law could make it.
Logan said, "Tam, don't worry. Mom can wait at the trailhead, and you can walk with me. Alternatively, I can get the car, and you can wait for me with mom."
As Logan talked, I thought to myself, Maybe another hiker will offer us a ride down the hill. I've heard about trail magic before, and it would be so cool to experience a little magic today!
If you've read or watched films about the PCT or Appalachian Trail, you've probably heard about trail magic or trail angels. Trail angels are people who do amazing things for hikers, such as leaving water or cool drinks on the trail or even letting hikers spend the night at their home.
About 15 minutes after my conversation with Logan, I spotted the road from the trail and pointed it out. I said, "Maybe we should bypass the trail and walk down to the road to get the car. It would save on hiking time."
As we stood in the trail, we debated which option would be best: sticking together or splitting up. As we talked, two hikers—Kim and Eric—meandered up the trail. We said hello, talked about our day and how beautiful it was outside, and Kim asked us where we were going. We told her our dilemma, and she immediately offered to give us a ride to our car. Of course, we took her up on the offer!
As we walked toward the trailhead, Kim and I chatted about where we lived, how Logan and I met, and where we went to college. It turned out that Kim, Logan, and I were CSU, Chico alumni, which warranted a round of high fives!
Kim and Eric saved us a couple of hours and sore legs. We were incredibly grateful for the ride to the meadow and to experience a little trail magic.
My takeaway lessons...
Overall, our day trip was fantastic. I love being outside, hiking, looking at the beautiful sites, and learning new lessons. Some of my takeaway lessons from the Deadfall Lakes hike include:
- Always check the topography on a map before you start hiking.
- Beginning a long hike at 12:30 p.m. was pushing it. It’s best to start long hikes early in the morning because there is more time to explore and to enjoy the trail. Also, if you decide to hike out on a different path, you won't be as stressed about the extra walking.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help from strangers. Most people are good and kind.
What lessons have you learned from long hikes? Share your story in the comments section.