High Sierra Camps - Part 5

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With no wood burning stove in our tent cabins, there was no need to start a fire in the morning, though it was on the chilly side early in the morning. As usual, I awoke early and ventured outdoors for some early morning exploring and for my sunrise ritual. I climbed up above camp and shot some photos of the camp below. The Merced River, flows by camp, with a sizable waterfall. With nary another soul stirring I ruled the domain for the time being. A mule packer/wrangler was up early and had packed up her mules. She may have brought in supplies for the camp, I'm not certain.

Merced Lake Camp is quite a bit larger than all the other camps, and is managed by Mike Talmadge, his first year as manager. Mike had been coming to Merced Camp since he was 6 years old - for 60 years. Having retired as a doctor, he was asked to manage this camp from a friend who oversees all the camps. He and his wife work as a team and run a well organized location. Mike is very outgoing and mingles with the guests everyday, getting to know them and sharing stories together.

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Of course, I was relishing this "extra" day. A day of rest and relaxation. It was good to have a day off, for the next day was going to be the most challenging part of the High Sierra Camp loop. A 2880'+ elevation gain loomed as that trail was to lead us to Vogelsang Camp. As I earlier stated, I had already made my mind up to wander back to that waterfall that fanned out over a granite slope.

After our breakfast, it felt good, though a bit odd, NOT to have to scurry and have our backpacks ready and prepare to don the loads and trek off on another days hike. So, I lingered longer this morning, explored around Merced Lake, which does not have what could be called a beach, but rather more of a marsh meadow on one side closest to camp, butting up to a mountain on the one side, the trail back to the falls on the other side and, farthest from camp, it flows out as the Merced River. Once I had explored nearer to camp, I gathered up my lunch, swim suit, towel, water and sunscreen and started the 1 mile hike back to my waterfall. Along the way I lingered to take photos of a deer and her fawn(s), enjoyed the views along the lake and the river and marveled at the granite mountains and the tall pine trees.

Along the way, I stopped frequently, also to get down closer to the river. Mike had told me about the mother bear and two cubs, though they had not been in the camp (that is a good thing - they do not want bears raiding camps and relying on human food (remember, bear boxes are for securing food, snacks, scented items and toiletries)). 

Also reportedly seen along the river and lake were an eagle, osprey, and river otter. I did see a very large bird flying low over the lake but I could not determine it's species. Likewise, I never saw the otter, though I would like to have.

It was a perfect day for a short mile hike. Upon reaching the falls I searched for an appropriate place for me to spread out and enjoy my day. Looking for a secluded pool below the falls did not look very promising, so I simply prepared a spot next to the thinly layered fall as it spread out across the granite.

A father and his young daughter happened by early on, as they were fly fishing in the pools of water, but otherwise I was undisturbed by others who might have wished to hang out in the same location.

Later in the day, I laid down in the shallow flow of water, feet braced on an outcropping and allowed the cool, clear water to just flow around me. It never submerged me nor streamed over me - simply around me. That was soooo refreshing.

Lying in the sun, soaking up the rays, listening to the water ripple over the rock, I was totally at peace. By mid afternoon I could feel more of a chill in the air, and so, I headed back to my tent cabin. The day of rest was just what the doctor ordered and allowed me to gather up some strength and will power for what was to come on the ascent to Vogelsang.

Others in our group had hiked out to nearby Washburn lake, of which, I heard little feedback. But Cindy had returned from Washburn Lake separate from the others and was rewarded with seeing the mother bear along her way. She did get a photo of it which she shared when she came into camp.

Another delicious dinner was prepared for us at Merced Camp, and the day soon wound down. I prepared my backpack, and made sure to get plenty of sleep as Jana made it clear, she wanted us on the trail by 8:30 a.m. I did not want to be the one holding up departure, and so, tried to have everything organized for a timely start on a day of climbing, climbing, climbing...

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That is Mike, the manager, in the mess hall at dinner.

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The start of breakfast, hot oatmeal and mixed, fresh fruit.

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