Thursday, August 11, 2011

McCutcheon Creek to Overland lake August 6, 2011

Overland Lake from above

After a good nights sleep I woke up at 6:30 am to clear blue sky. The weather was crisp and cool while I packed up my tent and sleeping bag. The first hour and half I climbed out of the McCutcheon and Dry Fork drainages to the top of South Fork. The trail up to this point was overgrown in spots but easy to follow. I saw many wildflower species including Paintbrush, Larkspur and Sunflowers. From looking at the map I could see that I had to hike into and out of the South Fork, Middle Fork and North Fork drainages. Seperating South Fork and Middle Fork was a ridge which the trail switchbacked up and over. In the South Fork drainage the wild flowers were beautiful and I saw a great place to camp in the future. I reached a low point on the RCT of 7400 feet in North Fork Canyon. From looking at my map, I could see that I had to gain 3,000 feet of elevation to climb out of the drainage. Parts of this climb would be the toughest of the four days. The sun was brutal and I felt I could not drink enough water. Also the switchbacks were long and seemed to go on forever. After four plus hours in the three drainages I finally crested North Fork pass. I rested for a few minutes and continued on. Ten minutes later the trail was covered by a steep snow field 100 yards wide. I slowly crossed it knowing that slipping was not an option. Above Overland Lake I reconnected with the RCT and descended to the lake. I arrived at 3:30 pm tired and hungry. At the lake I met a group of guys with horses. They were cooking hotdogs and gave me two for lunch. That night I ate chiken and rice for dinner. After dinner I hung out with a group of backpackers from Tennessee and Pennsylvania. It felt good to know another group was hiking north on the RCT.

Trail junction in South Fork Canyon

Above Overland Lake

Looking south on the pass above the North Fork drainage
Looking into North Fork Canyon

Wildflowers in the South Fork drainage

Above South Fork drainage

Looking toward McCutcheon in the early morning

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