In the garage the car's thermometer read 34F. Five minutes down the road toward Manson it was 23F. Just beyond Manson it was 13F. Amy declared that if it got down to 10F we were going home. Luckily, it actually got warmer at the Sno-Park so it was a balmy 14F when we started gearing up.
Amy traditionally gets very cold very quickly and then doesn't warm up. To combat this problem I scurried around getting gear for her. Along the way she embedded four of those little hot packs in her clothes. Two were in her hands (subsequently encased in expedition mitts) and two were in between layers of wool socks and then felt-lined Sorrels. I'm not sure about Amy, but by the time she was ready to go I had been forced to drop a layer for fear of heat exhaustion.
When we finally did get on the trail we were following a snowmobile route. One of the same I'd seen the machines buzzing up and down from atop Fourth of July Mountain. The road seemed to be climbing more than expected, but we trudged along with light only from the stars.
Unfortunately, the clouds rolled in and we lost most of our stars. It looked like there was another road below us and Antilon Lake below that. I checked the map and GPS and we were still heading in the right direction so we continued on. Suddenly, we were at lake level. It doesn't take a genius to know that lakes don't differ in elevation from one end to the other (except perhaps really, really big lakes). In the low light, with only two headlamps between the four of us, we figured we were at the dam that created the lake. Interesting.
We wandered along the road for another bit and eventually found an intersection with a couple of roads. One headed up the hill, but the other headed down toward the lake. We headed toward the lake, but found our road ended rather abruptly. There was a gully that descended so of course we followed it. At least Martin and I did. The girls decided to wait for a single whistle blow to follow our tracks.
We followed the gully down and were surprised to see the GPS showed us over water. Hmm... not exactly ideal. So we climbed up to a little ridge and looked out over the lake... or at least a little sliver of the lake. Oh well, good enough. We could see Fourth of July Mountain above the lake, but just barely in the darkness.
The girls followed and arrived with us in time for the wind to start blowing. We countered with hot chocolate and extras. The chill was too much for us for long so we headed back and made quick work of the walk to the car. We were back by 11:30.
Total distance was about 2.5 miles with 180 feet of gain.