With summer right around the corner, we’re gearing up for another season spent in the mountains; so I figured now was a good time to share the story of our final hike from the end of last summer!
2014 was our first season of actually hiking, and we fell in LOVE with it! There’s just something indescribable about being in the mountains, completely cut off from the world. No cell service. No obligations. No timelines. Just fresh air and lots of conversation. And waterfalls. We’re waterfall junkies.
Throughout last summer we went on lots of short hikes, and a few that challenged us. But all summer long Brandon had been talking about how much he wanted to hike Hyalite Lake - a gorgeous trail that passed 11 waterfalls. The catch - it was 11 miles round trip, almost three times longer than any hike we’d done up to that point. But our waterfall junkie hearts got the best of us and we decided we were going to make it happen before summer ended. So when Labor Day weekend rolled around we decided it was time to tackle it before fall set in for good.
We loaded our pack with water, snacks, and camera gear. Grabbed our brand new Chacos (that we were SUPER excited to finally have), and headed up to Hyalite. We’d hiked the first two miles in before, to Brandon’s favorite waterfall (Arch Falls), so that part felt like a cakewalk. But once we moved past that point everything was new, and we were so excited to finally be headed to the top! We stopped at each waterfall for a few minutes to take pictures and soak in the view. We sat below waterfalls, on top of waterfalls, next to waterfalls, and we just talked endlessly. I’m pretty sure that I fall more in love with my husband every time we venture into the mountains together.
As we approached the lake and hit the switchbacks we both started to dwindle. Our energy was fading, our muscles were burning, and our brand new shoes turned out to be a really, really, REALLY terrible idea. The straps were cutting into our feet. We had blisters larger than we ever thought possible. But we were determined. There was no turning back when we were so close already. I remember reaching the top of the switchbacks and turning this corner to the most amazing view I’d ever seen! We were standing on the edge of this ledge, overlooking the valley we’d just trudged through, and I remember feeling triumphant. It was surreal.
When we finally reached the lake we sat down and soaked it all in. We ate lunch, took a few pictures, and reminisced about the past few hours full of small victories, leading up to that moment. And then it hit us. A brick wall of exhaustion. There we were at our destination, completely wiped out, and we realized we were only half way done. We still had to trek all the way back to the Jeep.
The way back down was mostly silent, and somehow I didn’t take a single picture. Not one. We both tried our best to refrain from complaining. We tried to take a shortcut down the switchbacks and ended up trekking through a field of tall grass, over fallen trees, and far from the path. We eventually found the trail again and continued our painful and silent journey back. I remember reminding myself over and over again that I just had to put one foot in front of the other. I also remember that about half-way down the thought crossed my mind that if I just laid down and curled up into a ball, I could take a nap and eventually search and rescue would find me. It was a superrr tempting idea, I won’t lie. Almost as tempting as when the guy flew by on a dirt bike and we seriously contemplated offering him money to give us rides back down. But Brandon kept reminding me that we could do it. He encouraged me and cheered me on every time I thought I couldn’t make it.
Eventually, somehow, we made it back to the Jeep. We threw our gear in the backseat and sat in silence for a few minutes before we headed home. We were so exhausted that we resorted to some actions we aren’t so proud of… we ordered pizza on the drive home and played rock-paper-scissors to decide who had to crawl out of bed to answer the door when it arrived. Brandon lost (and I did a happy dance in my head). We then proceeded to devour a whole pizza, while laying in bed. And then we passed out. For over 12 hours.
It was an amazing day, and I’m so thankful for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Our hike to Hyalite Lake will forever be one of my favorite memories. And on that note, here are a ton of pictures from our hike up - the hike down looked similar, but without all the smiles