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Eightmile Lake 11 /04/2004

Well trips are made to be amended. Although I many times have to crunch dayhikes into certain hours of the day, accomadate weather and available daylight. I had originally planned after more than a couple days of fair weather to do a dayhike from 8 mile trailhead to little 8 mile and up from there through Lake Caroline and Windy pass. Have done more than double that mileage and elevation in the past and recently some serious slams not quite a week ago to Upper Snow Lake and a few weeks ago to Cape Horn pass. Well, I have to let the kids get off to school there burns some precious daylight and I have to be back before or around the time my wife goes to work. I arrived at the trailhead around 9am, the forest road had 3-4 in. of snow mixed with ice and some small downfall over the road, nothing that you couldn't avoid or drive over. Trailhead temp 28 degrees, from the start 3-4 in. of snow on a trail not used for awhile, the slightly frozen crust with wet snow upderneath. I hit the switchbacks in the sun (on the only section that would have sun the whole way) and was breaking a path, patchy ice underneath, it was slow moving and just off the trail probably a foot  deep, no real wind, blue skies. It didn't take me long to realize Lake Caroline wasn't gonna be possible this late and getting back at the rate I was traveling, I decided in about 10 min. I was probably going to have to go to lower 8 mile and 8 mile lake. The snow kept increasing through there probably 6-8 in deep approaching lower 8, more than 2 feet just off the trail in many places. Then the boulder field on the far side between both lakes partly on what I believe was the trail, partly a snow-whack over and through some of the boulders back to the trail which was a slight indentation in the snow level. The snow level on the trail had about 6-8 in in general near 8 mile lake, more in some spots slightly less in others, I think the trail being low and with little canopy,due to the deforestation from fire lets alot of snow drop down that otherwise would have been and was less in more forested sections (not many of those along this trail (but great views). The tiring part was picking your way through an unused trail which just slowed you down, but the constant breaking of the frozen top layer of snow folowed by dropping down 6-8 in. then repeating, that's quite some resistance, I made it to the junction of 8 mile trail and trail 1554 in about 2 1/2 hours , rather pathetic, so I knew I wasn't even going to target Lake Caroline don't know the snow level going up 3 miles and gaining 3300' feet, but definitely at the pace, it was not going to fit into the time frame so having not been to 8 mile lake I settled for that and it did not disappoint, I arrived at 8 mile lake at 12pm, it took me about 3 hours to go 3.3 miles and gain a relative 1300'. I had lunch with spectacular views and on returning even had some sunshine in spots, met a late dayhiker in shorts with bottled water  mid cut boots, no gaiters, making her boot tops below snow level. Got back to the trailhead / truck at 3pm. It was a worthy trip although I was limited by time and weather, 6.6 miles, 5 hours of hiking. Will post some pics, when I can tonight later probably. Used a pair of softshell pants, worked real well for this hike.

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