Monday, August 21, 2000

Thanks to a miscalculation, today's journey turned out to be a short one. That was just fine. There was more to see and do along the way, as the trail was to take me through Red's Meadow and Devil's Postpile National Monument. The downside of that (for readers of this website) is that there was even more time to write. In order to minimize the text on this page (read: to keep you from geting bored) I've provided optional links to a pair of the more long-winded tangents.

Looking forward from the trail at where I'll soon be.

Nifty trail shot. Looks spontaneous. It isn't.

The Mammoth Blaze left these behind

Had to work out a sort of menu plan for the next few days, then waltz into the store at Red's Meadow to see what was available for the picking. I'm sitting at the counter at the resort greasy spoon-the name of which escapes me-wondering whether salami, peanut butter and M&M's will really o me for lunch over the next four days. There are a number of odds and ends tacked to the wall here. A nice photo of Ediza Lake with the caption, "Lake Ediza," a cartoon drawing of several woodland animals holding a fire hose over a tiny burning tree with the slogan, "We survived the rainbow Fire" Mammoth Lakes, CA 1992. I guess that August fire eight years ago was responsible for that scorched earth I just walked through. There are also photographs of Cecile Lake and Garnet Lake, two eight-point bucks who've been to see the taxidermist, not to mention a bear, who's been made to look as if she just witnessed a backpacker give one of her cubs a rather aggressive "noogie." Unfortunately, an otherwise inaccurate pose for the poor bear. Lunch is done. The waitress struggles to spell "enchiladas" on the menu board (tonight's special.) the trail beckons. I'll go outside and loaf for a bit, perhaps (like Larry Darrell) and wander by the monument. Then head up to Trinity Lakes, some four miles distant.

Devil's Postpile

For those who like a little symmetry...

Johnston Meadow on the way up towards Johnston Lakes

Looking back at some peaks, the name of which escape me.

I met some nice people on the trail. Click here to read about them.

The Trinity campsite is fair. I have a view of the lake, lodgepoles and silver fir surround me. But it's not necessarily the campsite itself that will immortalize tonight. It was the surreal vision that swept THROUGH it while I was preparing dinner. Corn pasta again, this time with half a package of curry and coconut milk. [Special note: one cup of corn pasta (dry) is TOO MUCH FOOD. I could barely fit it all in. I even took a picture of myself with an empty pot and an about-to-barf expression on my face.] I was measuring powdered coconut milk into a cup measure in order to determine how much was half, thereby learning how much I could pour into the Ziploc Bag I had liberated by removing the one garlic clove it contained (I'm going into tremendous detail here to show how mundane was the task that was about to be interrupted) The coconut milk was lumpy. It came out of the bag all wrong. Some spilled on the rock I was using as a kitchen space, and I thought to myself that I was glad it'd occurred to me to cook far away from the tent on this particular evening. The last thing I'd want to have sniffing 'round my tent in the dead of night was--

A thump came from somewhere in the trees. My first thought was that a pine cone had fallen. Or a stone. No wait, I knew that noise. It was a hoof. Horses were coming. Big deal. But there have been times when what I thought was a horse turned out to be a deer, so I stood up to look.

Some kind of activity through the trees. I couldn't make it out. A flash of brown hide. Tan, actually. It was a deer. And then I saw something else. A dog! I immediately understood what was going on. Or thought I did. Someone's dog had gotten excited and was chasing a deer through the brush and trees. A flash of indignation sparked through me and then died. It wasn't a dog. It was a coyote. The two of them disappeared out of sight behind the fat rock I was leaning against. As carefully as I could, so as not to spill even more coconut milk powder, I got up for a better view. The two participants were headed my way. I knew now what was going on. A coyote was chasing a deer. This was a hunt, and it was about to come barreling through my little, overused campsite.

I saw the coyote first. It was a ragged thing, though good-sized. Hair coming in irregular tufts. Black at the roots, then mottled elsewhere. It was limping, I saw now, which suggested--no, not limping. It's left front paw was entirely missing! This was a three-legged coyote. How could it have this deer on the run? At that moment, on the other side of the rock, the deer showed up. Instead of being terrified, you know, rolling its eyes and frothing at the lips and stuff, it gave me a look that was closer to, "Excuse me, have you seen--? Oh there he is!" and he took off. AFTER the coyote. This deer was chasing the coyote.

I couldn't believe it at first, but the deer, who was trailing the coyote by a good fifteen meters, put on an incredible burst of speed and disappeared after his quarry. The two of them vanished down the JMT in a cloud of dust. I stood there stupidly for a beat. Would they reappear? I stood there some more. Was I going to hear a coyote scream? Of course not, reasoned, and sat back down.

...Three fourths of a cup. That's how much coconut milk powder was in the pouch. Now if I could just pour 3/8ths of a cup back into the Ziploc bag.

Wide panorama of the campsite
a t Trinity Lakes


Way too much to eat