Saddleback Ride in the High Sierras


Early morning near Sunrise High Sierra Camp meadow.

One thing that differed at Sunrise Camp was that they did have a couple of showbiz folks who performed after dinner. It was an a-cappella song and soft shoe routine. It entertained me so much that I asked for the words to one of their songs. This is to Simon and Garfunkel's tune to "Slow Down, You Move Too Fast":

Slow down you move too fast, You've got to make Yosemite last. Just kickin' down the granite stones, Lookin' for fun, and feelin' groovy! Ba da-da-da-da, feelin' groovy…

Hello Lodgepole, what ya known', I've come to watch your flowers growin', Ain'tcha got no bears for me? Dootin' doo doo, feelin' groovy… Ba-da-da-da-da, feelin' groovy…

I've got no deeds to do, no promises to keep, I'm ramblin' and happy and ready to leap. Let Yosemite share all her wonders with me. Life I love you, all is groovy! Ba-da-da-da-da, feelin' groovy…

(Slow down you move too fast, You've got to make Yosemite last. Just kickin' down the granite stones, Lookin' for fun and feelin' groovy! La-la-la-la-la, la,la feelin' groovy…)

Right on! GROOVY!

Other than that, like I mentioned, not much had changed at Sunrise. My tent mates were Julian and Drew and the other single woman, to whom I'll refer as "J". Julian and Drew, younger and outgoing were easy to like. J was chatty, informing us she has sleep apnea and would likely snore. I was very glad to know about the snoring, as I had brought ear plugs just in case a tent mate's nocturnal noises would disrupt my sleep. Those came in handy after all. J also let us know she had osteoporosis and was taking multiple medications for it. (Hummmm, a bone disease? Riding mules?? … more about that later…)


As I had done the prior week, I arose early (it was even colder this time), and headed outdoors for the sunrise. As the sunshine began to sweep across the meadow, so too were thin clouds of smoke from the fires now being lit in the tent's stoves. The drifting wisps of smoke added another dimension to the brightening morning light.

As before, soon after breakfast we had our belongings gathered up and were ready to go, but K-Bar and Kendall had some issues early on that delayed our start. Once that was resolved, they had us mount up and set out for Merced Lake Camp.


As we progressed during the day, from on top of Steve-O, the scenery's familiarity was like an old friend. This time, though, I could look up and look around more thoroughly and took in even more of the views. At the now familiar "Jane Mansfield Pass" we stopped for lunch. I was able to walk around more, there, and enjoyed just looking at the scenes.


Our lunches were more than ample for me and usually an apple was included along with a good sized sandwich, packaged cookies and a pack of animal crackers. By the time I got to my apple, though I love fruit, I could not eat all of it. Whereupon, I decided to share it…with Steve-O. (I think that won him over entirely to me). Thereafter, at lunchtime, I'd share my apple with my trusty mule. I do think he looked forward to receiving that instead of his typical lunch of grasses or whatever greenery he chose to munch upon. I considered it a good insurance policy with Steve-O. He's assured of an apple from me, I'm more assured he will be trustworthy and carry me along until the end. I never had any issues with him all four days.

Proceeding on to Merced Lake Camp went without incidents. Except for trying to keep the mules closer together instead of having them spread out. 

K-Bar had told us not to let the mules eat along the way, especially if they just stopped and decided to graze. We were to give them a good swift kick or use the rein ends to swat them and get them moving. We were told, WE were the boss and had to get the mules attention and establish authority. I both had to laugh and cringe when a couple of the riders would be shouting:

 "NO, NO don't eat that",

" NO, not that way", 

"C'mon, let's go"

and the usual grunts, groans and screeches of surprise as the mules might have to jump a little bit down over a rock, or hop up over ones along the trail. Some seemed to treat their mules like a pet dog or cat, expecting them to respond. Giving the mule a little kick in the side was part of our instructions to get them moving, to get caught up or hasten them along, as was the case when we passed by a nest of ground bees and we HAD to run them out of that area before the mules REALLY got unruly being stung by the bees. Yet, a little tap was about all some were able to muster. I can only imagine if the mules had any thoughts, they'd be thinking "oh sister, is that ALL you got?" or, like the Pillsbury Dough Man would say, "that tickles".

It was good to enter Merced Camp again. At dinner, manager Mike let us know that some campers next to the camp had not extinguished their campfire that day which started a small forest fire. The staff recognized it quickly and thought they had it under control and had extinguished it. To be sure, however, a hotshot crew was to arrive in the morning to assure there was no further possibility of re-igniting and spreading. THAT kind of excitement would NOT have been fun. 


K-Bar and Kendall were supposed to share my tent that night in Merced Camp, but, as it turned out, they slept either outdoors, just like Sean had done the week before, or they arranged some other place to spread out their bedrolls. But, I did have one roomie that night who arrived after I had been there for awhile. Introducing ourselves, I learned he was from Michigan and upon further asking found he was from Ann Arbor, my former home. He told me he was a radiologist at the U of M Hospitals. That immediately struck a chord with me and I asked if he knew Mark Bonney, my former partner. Surprised, he said, yes, of course, Mark and his business partner had just made a sales presentation to him a week or so before. Mark had worked at the U of M Hospital as an ultrasound tech, and later worked for a company that sold ultrasound equipment to clients where Mark would then train staffs to operate the devices. Mark is now presenting another type of medical imaging equipment to clients. (Richard Bauerman say's hello Mark). Talk about 15 degrees of separation…

No extra day at Merced on this trip, and with my sore toe, I limited my movements just to what was necessary that evening and next morning. The night was time to get relief and it did feel good to be off my feet. Otherwise, I had very little to complain about after my second day riding a mule. 

The next day would bring us to our last camp, Vogelsang, and word had it that we were going to be taking the higher, longer, Lewis Creek Trail. This really pleased me. Now I would have the opportunity to enter Vogelsang on the other trail AND get to see the Pass and the scenery I did not get to see a few days earlier. Plus, my exertion level would be minimal this go around.

Who would know what the next day would bring, but near tragedy and unexpected drama awaited at "The Incident at Vogelsang Pass".

IMG_6194 © Donald E. Kline 2012                                         Disqus Comments