Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Day 7: Hanging at Double Lake

March 1: There were only light sprinkles during the night--not the heavier rain that I had been expecting. With daylight, I ate breakfast, brushed my teeth, then broke down camp. I took a look at the San Jacinto River so see if the river level had risen during the night. Given how light the rain was, I didn't expect it to have changed much--and it hadn't. At least the hassle of fording it was already done, though, so I didn't have to worry about it today.

I hiked for a couple of hours--maybe 4 or 5 miles to Double Lake. Occasionally it sprinkled ever so lightly, but it was never so bad that I bothered to pull out my umbrella. More noticeable was that temperatures were considerably cooler than the previous few days when I felt oppressively hot and humid by my standards. Today felt like Seattle weather! =)

I veered a bit off trail to head toward the developed area of Double Lake. A grand pavilion sat not far from the shore, and I headed toward it to get out of the rain.

As soon as I stopped, the colder temperatures started seeping into my body, so I pulled out my fleece jacket, rain pants and rain coat to stay warm. Then I slipped a buff around my head under my hat to help keep me warm. Plus a light pair of cotton gloves. A man has to stay warm!

I checked out the area. The bathrooms, I was sad to learn, were locked--so I ended up peeing behind the pavilion. Fortunately, absolutely nobody was around so privacy wasn't a concern. The park personal who run this place should just be glad that I didn't need to do a #2. ;o)

I spent most of the afternoon hanging out under this pavilion, nice and dry!

I tested the drinking fountains, and they were still running. I wasn't sure if they had been shut off during the freezing weather the previous week or if the pipes were broken. Double Lake did have primitive campsites available, but for $20 a site, I had no intention of staying--and the backpackers I talked to yesterday warned me that the hot water for the showers weren't working anyhow due to the previous week's storm damage. I expected that the water was running, however, since they did say that the water had a chlorinated taste to it--but it was nice to confirm that the drinking fountains were still working. The pressure in them was enough to arch water high through the air that I could catch in my Nalgene bottle easily. And, when I tasted it, it had only a very mild taste of chlorination in the water--nothing near as bad as the church water from yesterday. I decided to fill up all of my water bottles with this stuff.

And, I could throw out my trash. I hadn't seen a trashcan anywhere on the trail since I started and now had seven days of trash to dispose of--which I was finally able to do.

The big thing I was hoping to find--I prayed and crossed my fingers--was an electrical outlet. I hadn't been able to collect much sunlight with my solar charger since the skies had largely been overcast the last several days and my phone was now down to about a 25% charge. I checked the pavilion and area around the restrooms but found nothing. No electricity. Drats. 

My hope was not only to re-charge all of my devices, but also to watch Netflix and Curiosity Stream for hours on end. It was my intention to spend almost the entire day at this park, protected from the rain under the pavilion. Through this area, hikers aren't allowed to wild camp anywhere they want--they must stay in designated campsites. The campsite at Double Lake was a no-go for me due to the $20/night charge, but there was another primitive campsite 0.7 miles further up the trail where I could camp for free. That was my goal for the night. With only a total of 4.6 miles of hiking today, I had a lot of downtime to rest, relax and stream movies. Except without electricity, I couldn't watch movies. I didn't need a wi-fi connection--I had downloaded hours of content before I even got on the trail. I just couldn't watch any of it without electricity.

Double Lake

Without that as an option, I spent hours and hours reading my Kindle instead, and finished reading the latest Tom Clancy novel. (Yes, I know he died years ago and other people have been writing his books, but they're still "Clancy books" in my eyes.)

At one point during the afternoon, two women with a small boy wandered by, but they didn't really stop to chat. I imagine they probably thought I was some homeless person trying to turn the pavilion into a home.

I also cooked one of my dinners for lunch--a good, time-consuming activity to do. There was unlimited safe and clean water to use for cooking and cleaning and it gave me something to do other than reading my Kindle. And it's a lot easier to cook under this nice pavilion than from under my tarp.

Hours went by, but finally--by around 4:00 in the afternoon--I felt it was time to hit the road and set up camp. The rain went on and off throughout the day, sometimes quite hard, but it had temporarily let up and was no longer raining at all. My plan was to rush the 0.7 miles to the campsite and get my tarp set up before the rain started again.

So I packed up and hit the trail, walking at a good clip. I reached a sign marking the turnoff to "Lone Star Campsite #1", turned up the short side trail and came out to a clearing. On one side of the clearing was a massive tent with gear and trash sprawled across the ground. They looked like car campers! Obviously, they hadn't come in from very far.

On the other side of the clearing were two small tents, set up side-by-side. Those are my people, I thought. I had no idea who they were, but after I set up my tarp, I was going to go over and introduce myself.

I quickly settled on a place for my tarp and started setting it up. While setting it up, it started to sprinkle lightly, which encouraged me to set it up even quicker.

Once it was up, I dived underneath, spread out my groundsheet, then changed into my camp clothes. By the time I finished, the rain was coming down in torrents. I wondered who my companions in the tents were, but I decided to hold off introducing myself until the rain stopped. If it stopped....

I went back to reading my Kindle. An hour later, a vehicle drove into the campsite. I had no idea that the campsite was accessible to vehicles! But when I identified that giant tent as a "car camper," I was more right than I realized. The car pulled up to the giant tent and parked. I had assumed whoever was camped there were inside their tent--it never occurred to me that they were off driving around in a car somewhere.

I saw the driver and passenger exit the vehicle with cigarettes dangling from their mouths, and a pitbull jumped out after them. They didn't linger in rain and soon crawled into their tents. I definitely had no interest in introducing myself to them. They might be fine, friendly people, but they didn't seem like "my kind of people."

The rain continued to pound loudly against my tarp the rest of the evening and late into the night, and I never got a chance to meet the two backpackers at the other side of the campsite. I was a little disappointed about that, but I wasn't going to lose sleep over the matter either.

Shortly after sunset, I curled up and went to sleep. Good night, Texas!

Warm and dry, despite the pounding rain on my tarp!

It seems like ants are stock-piling leaves around this anthill. Hmm....

Double Lake trailhead

Finally! I could throw out all my trash from the last seven days!


KuKu said...

What are favorite flavors of Cliff bars? Enquiring minds want to know!

Ryan said...

My favorites are the white chocolate macadamia and cool mint. But I wouldn't turn down any of them! =)

Bon Echo said...

Rain might have been a good thing, because I'm betting your car camping neighbors might have been noisy otherwise.