I awaken in to morning to about a dozen mosquitoes on my tent, hoping I get close enough to the mesh flap that they can bite me though it. Turns out, some already have. There is hum that fills the woods. The hum of mosquitoes. It’s no fun being hunted.
At breakfast, we decide to regroup and figure out what to do. Dan still isn’t having fun. Jayson thinks we should either take the boat out of the lake and all the way back to civilization – he’s checked his maps and it’s possible – or hike our way out. Kevin and I still think we should give it Kaina Lake a chance, so we decide to explore the lake, do some fishing, and do some hiking.
We all four jump in the boat and head to the south end of the lake. We head about a mile upstream toward the mountains and discover a couple of beaver dams. We head back to the lake a fish some more. 3 hours total and not one bite. But at least there are not many mosquitoes on the lake.
Back at camp, we rehydrated our lunch and, an hour later, Jayson and I decide to head out for a hike up the tallest peak on the west side of the lake. An easy walk quickly turns into a difficult wilderness journey. The brush and trees are very thick and the terrain is steep as we try to make our way to the ridge that lead up to the peak. The trees are so thick that we have no idea how close or far the ridge is. We finally hit the side of it and the trees are brush are just as think, just more vertical. We keep fighting through and eventually break the tree line and read the upper edge of the ridge. Wow! Now this is a nice view. And an enjoyable hike. I’m hoping we find a great place to camp at the top and that we can spend a couple of mosquito-free night up on the mountain.
We make great time above tree line and are excited to be reaching the peak — until we find out it’s a false peak. We have about another 400 ft of vertical to climb.
We finally reach the top (click here to see Karaoke Peak in Google Maps) and it was worth the work. The view of the lake is beautiful. The view of Mt. Drum is inspiring. The cool air and breeze is refreshing. The mosquitoes swarming around our head at 4400 ft are surprising. We sit down, cook dinner, and finish our water. After taking in the view one more time, we head back to camp.
Instead of following the ridge back down the way we came, we decided to head straight down to the lake and have Kevin and Dan pick us up in the boat and float us to camp. We’re using Garmin walkie-talkies so we can talk to them and see their exact location via GPS. They agree to pick us up and we head down. Straight down. The terrain was much more difficult than we anticipated. Several small cliffs we had to work around, loose gravel and rocks, difficult brush, etc. It was no fun, but it was too late to turn back. We made our way down, frequently slipping and occasionally uprooting trees. The descent was just a hard as the ascent and that’s not how it was supposed to work.
We finally made it to the lake and I was exhausted and very thirsty. I need twice as much water as I had, and I should have taken off my long sleeve shirt much sooner. Shorts would have been a great idea if not for all of the brush, rocks, etc.
At the top of the mountain, Jayson and I had come to a decision. We’d done all the fishing, exploring, and hiking we could. We were low on deet, low on gasoline for the boat, and didn’t have anything more to experience where we were. There was no place mosquito free. The following night was Karaoke Night at the Tolsona Lake Resort. It was time to leave. In honor of that decision, we named the mountain we’d just climbed Karaoke Peak.
We share our thoughts with Dan and Kevin. It is unanimous. Since my wife Nicole is pregnant, I rented a satellite phone “just in case.” What a great idea, because it was going to get out out of here. Luckily, I stored the number for Copper Valley Air in my Treo and have it handy. Spirits are high for all of us. To celebrate, we decided to shoot some stuff.
We start our target practice session at 10:00 PM and switch between our two .44 magnums. Dead-eye Dan nails everything he aimed his gun toward. Kevin flinches and ducks every time he pulls the trigger. I shoot Jayson’s Ruger Redhawk and I’m impressed the by accuracy of the 5.5″ barrel (I thought it would be much less accurate than it was), the comfort of the Hogue grip, and the visibility of the Williams FireSight. Although I personally prefer the deliberateness/safety of my single action Ruger Super Blackhawk, the unwieldy 7.5″ barrel and stock grips make me think “upgrade.” The only advantage of the Super Blackhawk was potentially higher muzzle velocity from the longer barrel; it did seem like mine gave more of a kick. I’ll need to do some more research.
After target practice and 100+ rounds of spent ammo, we call it a “night.”