Active Ingredient: Doxycycline
We aimed for the closest lake in the upper valley, and arrived just before noon.
The north side of the pass held the first patches of snow we had come across, but we had no difficulty crossing or bypassing them.
Below Gardiner Pass Even though we were among snow patches, just under 11,000 feet, the water in the lake was surprisingly warm only frigid. I swam out to an island in the lake, turned around, and swam right back. The sun was still ferocious, so I was dried off in less than half an hour.
I tried to stay covered up so that I would not burn, and succeeded in only burning my feet between the sandal straps. Later both Roy and Eva went swimming, and we all rinsed out our dusty clothing.
We generally lounged around camp, recovering from the steep descent, admiring the spectacular scenery and wonderful views, exploring the surrounding lakes.
If I were hiking alone, that is probably what I would do. But Roy and Eva are content to stay put, and after some thought I realized that Gardiner Basin is probably as scenic and remote as Arrow Canyon, and we were already here.
So instead of hurrying through Gardiner Basin, we will make Gardiner Basin the focus of the trip. This simultaneously relieved the schedule pressure, the necessity to make it over King Col, and the long hiking days later in the week.
Later in the afternoon it became breezy and then cloudy. We could hear thunder all afternoon, and lots of dark, threatening clouds swirled around us. It never did rain on us though.
And there were no mosquitoes all day long. But as before, after dark the mosquitoes came out, so we had to put up the tents and hide inside. I must have had forty on my screen door! Our plan was to descend the west fork of Gardiner Creek, to the big lake just above where it joins the east fork.
We did not see signs of the trail often, so we just wandered down from one lake to the next, crossing and re-crossing the stream and dropping steadily.
We had to negotiate downed trees, brushy places, and swampy spots more and more as we descended.
We finally had to cross a shallow arm of a lake. I waded across with my boots on, getting them thoroughly soaked, while Roy and Eva changed into their sandals. We were being harassed by mosquitoes when we stopped, so we kept moving pretty steadily.
I was growing increasingly concerned that we find the trail, because the guidebook warns of an "incredibly steep" descent beyond the big lake, and I wanted to find the trail for this descent. So I was greatly relieved to find unmistakable signs of the trail starting its descent.
Five minutes later was the lake, and for the first time, no mosquitoes.
We found a wonderful campsite, with great views of the lake, rocks piled into tables and chairs, and good clear spots to sleep.