Okay, repeat after me: We love Phelps Lake. (now you)
Guess where we went on our first day of vacation. Yep, Phelps Lake. It is a nice in and out hike that starts at the Death Canyon Trailhead. If you just go to the lake and back it is about 4 miles. You can make it longer by going all the way around the lake or taking other trails. There are many fun options, and pretty much the entire hike I thought I was in the Sound of Music at the beginning of the movie where Julie Andrews is twirling around on the top of the mountain. Oh, yes, I was singing. Ask my family. I was surprised that I really know every word to that song.
The trail goes up for a while, and then you reach this view (in the above photo) of Phelps Lake. Glorious! The the trail winds around a bit, but you don’t lose the view of the lake. The trail continues downward through fields of flowers with mountains behind you. My two older daughters and four of my nephews were blazing the trail for us. I told them I thought this setting would make a nice Young Adult Mystery novel where they all get separated from their family, a creature begins chasing them, and they have to figure out how to get away and more importantly how to survive out here. Their eyes all sparkled. They said they would read it. 🙂
Eventually we were in that forest you can see that is at the edge of the lake. It was lovely with very tall old trees and a well-worn path to trod. We passed some other hikers who casually asked us if we were going to the “Rock.” We asked them what they meant, and they told us that there was a huge rock that you could jump off of into the lake. I’m sure you know that some of us could not just be satisfied after this with just reaching the beautiful lake shore and having our picnic. After handing out sandwiches (I had the mayo bag which is actually pretty popular with our group), we sat and ate rushed by our children wanting to find a tree to change into their swimsuits. We had eight adults and fourteen children so usually we made a whole loaf of meat, cheese, and mayo, a whole loaf of meat, cheese and mustard, and a whole loaf of peanut butter and jelly. Then the loaves get carried by different people on hikes. For some reason, I tended to carry the mayo bag on this trip. I don’t know why. My brother-in-law fussed at me because he didn’t know that he needed his swimsuit that day. He wanted to know why he didn’t know this and who the trip planner was anyways. I want you to know that my other brother-in-law Clay planned this hike and I did say that I was bringing swimsuits for my family. It’s not my fault if no one was listening.
Seeing that my older girls had already ventured down the path that supposedly led to the “Rock,” Matt, Lydia, Claire and I started down that path too. It was longer than I thought it would take to get there, and I had foolishly left my hiking boots on the shore. Yes, I was barefoot in the woods in my swimsuit. No snide remarks please. I was one with nature or something. There were some rocks on the path, and I kept saying I should have turned back. We heard screams and then saw the rock. It was very high above the water…probably 25 or 30 feet high. Lydia just shook her head and said, “No way, I’m not jumping off of that.”
There were a lot of people around the rock and on the top of the rock. It was pretty funny. My two older girls and my nephews were just continually jumping off and climbing back up. Plopping off…they were….like it was no big deal. I climbed up ready to be adventurous. There were several little kids in front of me. They kept going to the edge and chickening out. When they moved, I took my turn being a chicken. I went to the edge and stood there. I had a conversation with myself. It went like this: A) You like to live on the edge. B) You probably won’t die. C) That water is going to be so cold. D) Is there a smaller rock I could jump off? E) I can’t concentrate because my husband and my brother-in-law keep calling me a wuss F) I should get out of the way so these little kids can jump off.
I backed up away from the edge at which point my ten-year-old says, “Mom! You are NOT getting off this rock until you jump off!” “Okay, okay. Just count for me 1, 2, 3 and I’ll jump. I’m thinking too much,” I said. I went back to the edge. She counted fast. I jumped. I fell forever. Well, it felt like forever. I screamed like a girl. It was awesome, dude. Then I hit the very cold lake water and went down to the bottom. I think it was close to the bottom because I swam up for a very long time. When I came to the surface, I was so happy. I needed to breathe. I was also really happy that I jumped. Too bad I couldn’t have yelled, “Free Fallin!” or something cool. My oldest yelled, “I believe I can fly!” when she jumped. Of course it was her third time!
After everyone who wanted to jumped off the rock, we headed back to the lake shore where the rest of our group was hanging out. My sister-in-law Beth was a little bitter that we left her with the food. She said she had a war with some chipmunks and after she won of course, she had to guard it like a gangsta. I don’t actually think she said gangsta, but I wanted her to.
We redistributed weight again. I was glad my mayo sandwich bag had diminished! Then we began the trek back up stopping in various locations for toilet needs. The hike out was just as beautiful, and I was singing again. We made it back to the trailhead at a little slower pace, but everyone was still in good spirits and felt great about our first hike.
To be continued…