After a night in the tent under clear skies it seemed it would be terribly inappropriate not to take advantage of the wonderful weather and go for a hike. (Of course, if it had been pouring rain it would likely have been inappropriate not to go for a hike.) Luckily, I had just happened to plan for such an occasion (go figure) and had maps, directions, and GPS route all ready.
Thorp Lake is a relatively small lake, but promised a chance to cool off and maybe do a little fishing. The berries might be ripe along the way and the route itself (uh, oh, it's a "route" and not a "trail") should be pretty well deserted since there are two official trails that lead to the lake.
We arrived at the end of the road in our two car caravan. All told there were 11 of us including the usual Moosefish suspects plus Daryl, Michelle, Lex, Jack, and their "dog," Orca. I write, "dog" in quotes (and yes, I would use air quotes if I was speaking it) because a dog should be bigger than a rat. Still, everybody is entitled to keep rodents, I suppose, even though we tend to dispose of them with a peanut-butter-baited trap.
From the end of the road the there's an easy trail that drops a bit to a creek crossing and then disappears into a dry creekbed that would be pretty well impassable before it dries up. Once we exited that (and all the kids, even Henry, did pretty well) the trail became a steep, loose dirt climb through sparse brush. We started seeing ripe berries here, but we were able to keep the kids focused enough to move them along.
After passing through some open forest (peppered with yet more tempting berries) we popped out into a meadow. As we were cresting the ridge I hoped a bit that we were at the lake even though my altimeter and GPS said we had a ways to go yet. Lilly was especially distracted by the berries and she and I fell further behind as the others continued to climb. (Henry was, by this point, on Amy's back.)
We left the meadow behind and climbed a last steep section before traversing a bit through some more trees. By now Lilly's hands were stained purple and we stopped at nearly every bush in spite of my "encouragement" to continue. In a little meadow we found a hat and walkie talkie in the middle of the trail. Amy's voice came on and started trying to convince Lilly to pick up the pace, but the hat had been left next to some AMAZING berry bushes and I found it hard to tear myself away.
A little further on we caught up with everyone else while they were stopped just above the lake. We could see it, but not readily see how to get to it. I scouted a bit and found the way untenable, but eventually found a campsite close to the lake that connected with the one the families were at. We made that our base camp.
Trees lined our side of the lake so fishing from shore wasn't really that feasible. I took off around the lake to try to find a better spot and did find that the penninsula was quite nice with two killer campsites and places to fish the deep water. There were also a few less desirable spots around the other side of the lake. Unfortunately, though, it was a bit of a hassle to get there so we settled for fishing close by. (Of course, this meant we didn't catch anything, but we tried.)
Amy, Michelle, and Henry headed back early so he could get a nap. The rest of us sat on the logs fishing for another hour or so. We nearly tried a loop around the lake, but looking at the time we decided to head back. Good thing we did, too. Between dawdling and berry-picking we made it back to the car around 4pm.
Although we had seen a couple of people at the lake who had come in by the official trails we didn't encounter anyone on our trail until we were about 100 feet from the cars. Two teenage girls, one in a bikini and flip flops, asked where the trail went. When we told them they asked how far it was. With luck, they turned around shortly after we left. Or maybe they're still wandering about in the woods to this very day...
Total distance: 2.8 miles and 950 feet of gain.