Earlier this summer, I took one of those trips into the backcountry that was the definition of Type 2 fun. You know what kind. The trip where it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong does. Where you forget to pack multiple essential items and all of the factor out of your control decide not to cooperate.
Holly and I decided on a leisurely three-day trip at La Bohn Lakes with a trip up Mt. Hinman. We didn’t make it to the trailhead until around 11am, and by the time we made it up to the lakes, it was “gently” thunderstorming all around us. We quickly threw up our tent after spending about 30 minutes trying to find a clear spot to pitch it. When it came time to cook dinner, Holly dug through her pack, turned to me, and asked frantically, “do you have a lighter?” I shook my head silently. “What about matches?” Also no. I usually have a lighter in my hip belt for emergencies, but I had left it back in New York since they’re not allowed on planes (?). Holly had forgotten both of her lighters as well.
Definitely not the kind of situation anyone wants to be in in the mountains. We took stock of the situation. We definitely had enough food and wouldn’t starve, but we were pretty exhausted and the rain and relentless mosquitoes weren’t helping one bit. I suggested that we try to eat our dinner cold. They were the Mountain House freeze-dried meals, and I knew that PCT thru-hikers often eat their meals without hot water, so we filtered some water from a nearby tarn and waited patiently for our meals to rehydrate as we took some photos of the sunset.
It turns out that cold Mountain House meals actually aren’t all that bad. At least, the beef stroganoff and chicken teriyaki were fine. Not the most thrilling thing to be eating but honestly tasted pretty good on an empty stomach. Feeling that the trip was at least somewhat salvaged at this point – in spite of the horrific hordes of mosquitoes swarming our tent – we went to bed and agreed to attempt Hinman in the morning.
Overnight, the smoke began to roll in again, reminiscent of my trip here last year. Visibility was reduced, but conditions were still prime for our ascent. We slowly made our way above the lakes and over to Hinman’s ridge. Eventually, the views began to open up and we could see the summit block, Bears Breast, Dip Top and Lynch Peaks. We skirted around the huge choss pile leading up to the false summit, hopped onto the glacier, and ascended to the summit. We weren’t entirely sure which high point was the true summit since they all looked to be of similar elevation. It didn’t help that two of the high points had cairns at their tops, and all of the other high points looked higher than whichever one we were currently standing on. Holly was convinced the very eastern-most point was the true summit, but she waited for me while I quickly tagged all the others just to be safe.
We descended back to camp in about an hour, took a quick break, then decided to head up to La Bohn Peak for sunset. Unfortunately, the smoke blotted out pretty much all of the good lighting, but the views over the Necklace Valley from the summit are truly fantastic. We ate a quick dinner while trying to avoid the hordes of bugs and turned in early again.
Sunrise on day three was eerie. Because of the wildfire smoke, we didn’t see any colors and the sky looked to be white at around 8am. I fired off a couple of shots at the tarn before we began the long slog back to the car. Even though we got smoked out again, I’m pretty happy that I managed to successfully summit Hinman this time since the last time I was here, I had to turn back about 100 ft short of the summit.