The road at Cherry Lake dam was closed due to storm damage from the winter. This would add 4.5 miles to my hike one way, and not a very easy four miles either. I heard one of the workers say they were all done with the road fixes, so if I had come a week later it would probably be open and I’d save myself 9 miles of tough hiking. One problem with that: it was supposed to be 100 degrees the next weekend. Not this day though. It would be close to freezing temperatures that night, and indeed it got down to 35 degrees as I slept in my vehicle at the trail head. It was cold. It would be even colder the second night. I just hoped I had brought enough warm clothes for the backpacking trip.

It was so cold in the morning that my phone battery was dead as well as the battery in my solar charger. I could not send any signals to my wife letting her know I was ok. This was a disaster! I thought I’d have to turn back before I even got anywhere. She would be totally freaked out if I was not sending any signals to her for three days. I decided to continue on for an hour and try again after warming the phone and charger against my body. It worked. I told her not to worry if she was not getting any signals from me. I felt relieved and she would now be relieved (well, somewhat relieved).

It was not supposed to rain in the morning. It was raining. As I climbed higher it turned to snow.
I didn’t think it would get any better all day. In fact, the weather was supposed to get worse in the afternoon. I needed to stay dry, it was going to be a cold night.

My goal was Lord Meadow, a 16 mile hike one way. It’s nice that the Lord has some cool place named after him. It seems the Devil has more such places. It should not be that way. I did have to hike through an area called Styx Pass, however. There is no river running through it (as you might think from the name), but it sure was hell hiking through it. It took forever! Swamps, fallen trees, brush, snow. I could not find the trail most of the time due to snow cover. There was snow from 7600 feet all the way to the top (7900) , then all the way down the other side right to Cherry Creek. It was especially hard with the fresh snow on top of the old. I could not see what I was walking on, and if it was stable or not. There was one very treacherous descent on the snow on the other side. In a normal situation I might have balked, but I couldn’t turn back now. I was so close! Fortunately the snow was hard packed and I got down it safely.

Lord Meadow was incredibly beautiful. Cherry Creek was big and wide. It was 4pm when I arrived and I was dog tired. Styx Pass took a lot out of me. Hasn’t someone said before that you must go through Hell before you can get to Paradise?

After setting up camp by the Creek I hiked up stream a ways to a waterfall on the East Fork Cherry Creek. By now the sun was out. I waited a long time but did not get any decent light so I had to hike back. Then I went down stream to Upper Cherry Creek Falls. I could not get down to the bottom of it (as I expected). It is too treacherous on the south side and impossible to cross to the north side of the creek. I did manage to get a shot from above the Falls looking down on it. Not too bad (I did not think I’d get any shot of it). It’s a very nice 50 ft slide. I suppose you might think it is a stretch to call this a waterfall. Perhaps, but the angle from above makes it look less than it is. It certainly would have been nicer to get to the bottom of it. To do that would have been pure stupidity.

A couple people asked me about crossing Cherry Creek as if it is obvious I’d do that. I’ve heard of hikers making very dangerous crossings at various places this year already. Such as one guy crossing a swift river above a 60 ft waterfall on the PCT, and losing all his gear (and almost his life) when he slipped. What? I don’t understand stuff like that. You’d have to be nuts to cross Cherry Creek. It was huge. The water would be up to my neck (most likely) or worse, and swift flowing. Why risk dying? I had no intention of crossing even before I started the hike. I knew it would be uncross-able. It’s not worth it to get a better photo of a waterfall. And anyway, I like this photo. Stay alive. It’s a good motto.


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