High Sierra Camps - Part 7


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While we were all in high spirits for all that we had accomplished, there was a bitter sweetness for me, the ending of a challenging, sometimes grueling effort to trek the rugged trails in the High Sierra Mountains and for the friendships and camaraderie between our troupe and the others I met and befriended during the week. My photos and stories, I hope, will help keep the memories alive for all of us.

On the last day at Vogelsang, I was up early, lit the fire in my stove, and redeemed myself for fire starting, as this fire did "take" and was soon burning very nicely. But, I didn't linger to savor the warmth, instead going out into the very cold morning air so that I could grab more scenes of this sunrise. From the west side of Fletcher Lake, I waited and watched as early dawn dwindled and the sun began it's steady climb upward in the Eastern sky. Vogelsang Peak grabbed the first beams of the sun and glowed brilliantly. Soon thereafter, the conifers beneath Fletcher Peak and along the lake were bathed in morning's golden glow. It was quiet, peaceful but for the chirping and chattering of the birds as they flittered and flew about. 

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Early mornings such as these in the mountains, set a peaceful, calming tone for me. All the mornings that brought me out into the cold, were so worth the effort. Even the smallest of things attract my attention, whether that be the darkness giving way to dawn, the colors in the brightening sky, glowing clouds, reflections in still waters, the manner in which the sunlight backlights pine needles as they gleam in sharpness and clarity, the way in which the light touches the mountain tops and proceeds it's flow down over the land and the night shadows disintegrate into the new day's light. Otherwise unseen, the strands of spider silk, stretching between branches or from tree to tree, trap early sunlight rays as they glimmer, multi-colored, waving in the light breezes, causing the light to seem to walk a nearly invisible tight rope, hesitating, jumping to and fro, hanging in mid air, the reflected light dancing along those tight, ever so slight silken threads. Animals and birds become active, squirrels and chipmunks scurry about looking for a convenient meal, birds singing and chirping their morning songs. So many little things are there to be seen if patience prevails and curiosity is sparked.

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Returning to my tent, it had warmed up nicely so that I could comfortably gather up my belongings and get them re-packed. Hot drinks were enjoyed once again, while I aimed to stand in the warm morning sunlight. Breakfast was delicious and satisfying, as trays of food were passed around the tables. By 8:30, most of us were assembled and patiently waited until all were ready to head out on this last leg of our hike. With lunches stowed in our packs, the final verse of the 7 Dwarfs, HI-HO rendition with dance step presented to the staff, we stepped briskly out and made our way over the meadow on the return to Tuolumne Meadows.

This last day of hiking was relatively easy. No big surprises along the way. A stop in a meadow along the way revealed some markers on four trees that have been used since the 1930's to help measure snow pack. Our wrangler, Sean, overcame us and passed through soon after we had left camp. Nearing the end of our hike I could feel some discomfort on a toe on my right foot, but it did not seem to be of any concern - at the time.

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Dot and I were staying overnight at Tuolumne Meadows. She was planning to arise early and begin her drive back home to San Jose. I was able to also sort out my clothes, and packed a small day pack with the items that I felt I would need for the next 4 days on the back of a mule. As requested, I drove over to the stables, introduced myself and received instructions for meeting there the following morning. Additionally, releases were presented for my signature and, having accomplished that task, I returned to camp, showered and shaved then rested until I met Dot for dinner. We met another couple who were backpacking into the mountains the next day. Sharing our stories and hearing theirs made for a pleasant way to enjoy our meals and end this final day of the backpacking hiking adventure in the High Sierras.

I was asked if I thought I might do this High Sierra Camp Loop trip again. That is something I'm still contemplating, but, by trip's end, I would have said "probably not". Happy and proud of myself for having completed this amazing adventure, there are many other places I'd like to experience and other adventures to live and conquer. If someone else or others would be interested in such an ambitious undertaking, that would certainly sway me towards tackling the Sierra Nevada Mountains once again.

Part 1 of the Yosemite feat now under my belt, I began focusing on the next four days of the Saddleback ride visiting three of the same High Sierra Camps of the past week. 

Would this be as demanding and fun as the hiking?





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