Thursday, August 10, 2000

Today was not a pass-bagging day. Two days ago was Pinchot, yesterday Mather, tomorrow, Muir. But today's task was just to get as close to Muir Pass as possible. We had our work cut out for us. From Deer Meadow, the trail drops a few miles along Palisade Creek to Le Conte Canyon. Then it makes a right turn and begins the long ascent towards the pass.

Once again, I didn't write in the journal. By the end of the day I was just too damn tired.

Postcard from the Sierra

Descending to Le Conte. Devil's
Crag looms in the distance.

No meteors last night. Some stars. The river was very loud so I finally put in my earplugs and took an antihistamine to help sleep. Despite the plan to leave camp early and the big day ahead, we slept in late and didn't leave camp till 9:30 AM. Initially I wore my Tevas to help my toes. Finally changed to boots at the river by Dusy Branch where we washed feet and ate lunch of Superpeanutbutter (peanut butter with M&Ms) on tortillas.

Grouse Meadow. A paradise alongside the trail.

Super Peanut Butter at the Dusy Branch crossing.

Energy levels were low during the ascent. Last night's dinner of salty orzo just wasn't cutting it. Grouse Meadow helped, proof, I guess, that it's possible to draw real physical energy from one's surroundings. We'd just toiled up the hot ascent from the river junction. The level stretch of trail alongside the meadow was a welcome break. But it wasn't until after lunch, which we spent at the bridge over the rolling Dusy Branch, that serious energy kicked in. I should have had the peanut butter for breakfast.
Grouse Meadow was beautiful, but after the Dusy turnoff, the trail up LeConte Canyon was steep. At one point, I even took off my pack and lay on the side of the trail to rest. Will went on ahead to find a campsite while I eventually plugged on.

Enegy restored

Will negotiates a switchback. That's lower Le Conte Canyon below.

A sense of scale

About three miles later, looking down at the bend in the canyon.

There was nothing to do but just keep on slogging uphill. It was a battle. A stand of pine provided a shady respite somewhere above Little Pete Meadow. I waited for Mom for a while. When she didn't show up I retreated down the trail a little ways, where I found her settling down for a nap beside the trail. That's about the time I decided I'd better shoot on ahead and procure a campsite. So on I went, past beautiful Big Pete Meadow and up the outrageous wall of rock and talus beyond it. The trail gets so rugged along this stretch. It some places it's been blasted out of the rock with dynamite. 200 lbs of it so the lore goes. I found a campsite, set up the tent, stashed extra food in the critter-proof canister and went down to look for Mom.
About 4:30, he came back, met me on the trail and said he had the tent set up ahead. A nice spot with the river close by. The sun had just gone behind Black Giant but I washed up anyway by the river. We had a dinner of mashed potatoes and corn pasta. There was a drama going on in a nearby camp- one member of the party of ten had hiked on ahead of the rest of the group and had to be fetched. We had met her hiking down on our way up. They found her eventually.

Black Giant

Campsite in late afternoon. Black Giant is the behemoth behind us.

Looking down at our campsite from above.

One more look at Grouse Meadow.