July 29, 2019, 5:49 AM
It’s been a long cold night in a dripping tent. Well, I wasn’t cold, except when a tendril of outside air would find its way into my bag, which wasn’t often.
I’ve spent too many hours prone, but don’t want to get up, or read much, or listen to anything. I find myself thinking about my duets album, which I’ve been working on—or off and on—for awhile now. I have one more song to record, and yesterday it came to me exactly what it should be and with whom. It’s been 30 years since I recorded “Old Friend,” on my “Love Chooses You” album. It’s definitely time to do it again, as a duet with Kathy Kallick! I’m so excited by the idea, which came to me in a flash on the last leg of yesterday’s walk.
Last night, after the rains, it was cold and clear. Stars bright as could be, and so many! The Milky Way was winding across the sky, and I saw a couple of meteors.
Whoa! The tent is frozen! The water droplets from the rain turned to ice in the night.
I got up and took a walk in the crepuscular light to the top of our granite pile, to watch the sun hit the snowy peaks and slowly light the pine and juniper, crawling across the valley to our campsite. Barbara is still sleeping, maybe. I didn’t want to wake her.
I came back down as the sun came up, maybe an hour or so later. Our camp is still in deep shade, and B is up and walking around. She was glad to see me, thought maybe I had gone missing. I should have left a note.
I found this beauty nestled among the boulders. If I had the time, I would do portraits of all the junipers! Each one is so distinctive and full of character.
Breakfast was delayed by a frozen bear vault, which neither of us could open. Finally was able to wrangle it open with the help of a little stove warmth. Now we are waiting for the sun to do its job and dry the tents before we pack up. And the solar charger is doing its thing with my phone/camera. It’ll be another beautiful day!
Now back home in Berkeley, I can fill in the rest of the day. We hiked to the trailhead at Leavitt Meadows, leaving around 9:30 AM, and didn’t see a soul until we hereabout a half mile out from Lane Lake. There we saw a young couple from San Luis Obispo out for the day. He was tall, blond, sunburned, and barefoot. A young, indestructible demigod. Ah, youth!
At Lane Lake, we were ready for a swim, but our chosen beach was taken over by a backpacking father and his three small kids. He showed us a 50-mile loop that he loved in Hover Wilderness. It starts and ends with a hot spring, which is a fantastic plus in my book. We have to check it out!
The day is hot and the trail is dusty. At the other side of the lake, we took to the water for a much-needed pick-me-up swim. Watched the crawdads and reveled in the cold, clear water under the blue sky. Lots of people with kids and dogs around the lakes on this Saturday. I’m so glad we got out mid-week. It was perfect trip.
The last couple of miles along the edge of Leavitt Meadows is exposed to the fun mid-day sun, and the trail is sandy and empty of people. Beautiful, but we were hot and tired and it felt like a slog. Often, parts of many trails feel like slogs, and I’m happy to endure them because that’s how you get out there.
The contrast from the east to the west always startles me. As we look toward Nevada, the hills/mountains become giant piles of volcanic rubble.
On the drive home, we stopped at Kennedy Meadows for Fritos and lemonade (yum!). It was perfect. The place was crawling with PCT hikers looking somewhat stunned, wandering around the aisles of the store fingering various items. We sat outside near where they were all gathered swapping stories from the trail. All these young people trying to put in the miles and accomplish a task. I much prefer to wander.
We learned, via a posted article at the store, that in 1947 the Marines from the Mountain Warfare Training Center just over the pass accidentally burned down Kennedy Meadows during one of their exercises. Oops. Not supposed to do that.
Postscript, 7/6/2020: It has been a real treat for me to revisit this hike. As it turns out, it was the only time that entire year that I got away for a backpacking trip. This year, I am making up for that with two planned week-long trips and who knows what other spontaneous outings. It is the silver lining to this strange year of no work and a wide-open schedule. I feel so lucky that, in my 70th year, I can still do this. So I will continue until I can’t. One foot in front of the other, watching the world unfold.