Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The JMT part 6

5-Banner or Ritter
The John Muir Trail
A remote point to point 200 plus mile backpack spanning from Yosemite to the top of Mt Whitney (with another 11 miles from the top of Mt Whitney to the trailhead)
Early morning found us still dry thank goodness.
And the cloudless sky overhead was a great omen!  Packing up after breakfast,  we headed south on the JMT with only one goal in mind that day....a new tent!  Within minutes we passed our first trail sign.  We looked at the turn off briefly, but were not too interested in a trail that took us down to a river and out of the views.   So, we didn't spend much time pondering it,  but marched on by.  It would not be long however before we realized we had actually passed our turnoff.   The sign we had passed had not mentioned the JMT and in our single minded determination to get to Red's...we just marched right past the JMT with blinders.  By the time we realized what had happened... in studying the map,  we realized there were actually three parallel trails to the Minarets Road.   We were actually on the PCT High Trail and no  longer on the JMT.  But looking closely at our topo...we realized also that it would be quite a delay to backtrack and the trail we were on would take us where we wanted to go anyway.  So we stayed on the High Trail.  In the end,  I can't say how many actually hike the High Trail to Agnews...whether while hiking the JMT or otherwise.  I am guessing most folks take the more glamorous JMT.   But, our accident took us over the most amazing trail that we would probably never have set foot on if it were not for our haste.  All along the High Trail you are up close to 10,000 feet, and the High Trail takes you out along  along the canyon's East rim for most of it's distance.  You have unencumbered far reaching views of the wilderness west, and  of the Minarets and of the canyon and the JMT below.  To this day my husband and I can't figure out why the High Trail is not the JMT!
So, "forced" to take in the magnificent views,  we enjoyed our hike to Red's immensely and still arrived at the road in plenty of time to take one of the shuttle buses back to Mammoth before the stores closed for the night.  Once we got on the bus though, we realized we were in a bit of more trouble.  I had only brought a minimal amount of cash...who needs cash in the wilderness!  And the shuttle was very pricey!   The driver heard our predicament though and told us first of all how to get from the Mammoth lifts where her run ended, to town,  and then she told us to watch for her when we came back and she would not charge us for the return trip to Red's!  Trail Magic!
Once we got to the Mammoth lifts, we had a bit of wait for the shuttle to take us to town so we confronted our next conundrum...how to pay for our tent!  Again, who needs credit cards in the wilderness?  Our cards were not on us!  We got to a pay phone...and had just enough change to call our daughter collect.  Next problem unfolded very quickly....you cannot call  collect to cell phones!   The operator was very efficient in telling me that before she disconnected.  I called the operator again and begged her not to hang up on me.  This time I got one willing to listen.  I explained my situation and she came up with the solution....she put us through to someone we knew who had a landline who would accept the charges and then the operator made a conference call with our nephew who had the landline and our daughter who had a credit card we could use!  After some very tense moments when I feared our trip might be in jeopardy,  our tent situation was solved.  From previous travels I already knew the name of a store in Mammoth that sold tents.  So my daughter said she would call ahead to  Kittredge Sports and tell them to sell a tent to us using her credit card...YEA!  Hopping on the bus to town we arrived at Kittredge post haste.  Walking in the door with three days grime and our fully loaded backpacks, a clerk made a beeline for us and asked if we perhaps were there to buy a tent!   My daughter had described us well it seems.  Securing a new tent and thanking them profusely for their help,  we hopped back on the bus up to the lifts.  Ah....relief!  Arriving at the lifts however,  one more small hurdle...the bus driver we were waiting for never arrived!  After a couple of buses came and went, we finally asked a driver about her.  It seems she was gone for the day.  Sigh.  But, after explaining what had happened to the new driver, he told us to hop on anyway and that he'd take us down to Red's.  More trail magic.   The moral of the story of course is never travel without money and cards!
Arriving at Red's rather late,  the restaurant was about to close for the night.   We told no sob story this time however, and yet,  the waitress took a long look at us then told us to have a seat that she could just fit us in!   I can't say enough about how hard the folks in Mammoth and at Red's try and make JMTers have a great trip!  Getting a great dinner and  our resupply from the store was simply perfect, and yet our Red's experience was not over...the natural spring hot showers were simply sublime!
We blissfully settled into the campground for backpackers at Red's Meadow well fed and showered and resupplied and slept that night in our brand new lightweight, waterproof tent!
9-Night 3, Reds Meadow Resupply
Three days and so many adventures....what else could this journey possibly hold for us???  To be continued....

Friday, January 23, 2015

The John Muir Trail part 5

Thousand Island Lake
Thousand Island Lake
The John Muir Trail
A remote point to point 200 plus mile backpack spanning from Yosemite to the top of Mt Whitney (with another 11 miles from the top of Mt Whitney to the trailhead)
As soon as we made our decision to hike on, the shock was replaced by determination.  Originally we had planned to camp a few miles down Lyell Canyon, and save the climb to Donohue Pass for morning when we were fresh.  However,  the lack of tent gave us incentive to push on.  Forging on all the way to the end of the flat canyon walk, we then made it part way up what was to be the next day's climb to Donohue before we called it a day.  Finding a lovely little bench with a view down canyon we spread out our bags and fixed supper. We truly enjoyed the stars overhead that night...thankful for clear skies!
The next morning we powered up Donohue Pass relatively quickly as we were part way there already, and our legs were strong and fresh after a good night's sleep.   Having been on Donohue Pass before,  we knew what a treat that view was so we stayed for a short time enjoying the view east and south towards Mammoth Mountain...but then hurried on.
The next stretch of trail led to unremarkable Island Pass and then onto Thousand Island Lake, and from Rush Creek junction, we were on new trail!   As long time hikers,  we always cherish new trail and the adventures ahead as so many of our high Sierra hikes criss cross previously hiked trails.   And to add to the treat of the new trail, we saw not one hiker that day on that trail.   In fact,  we saw not one other soul from about half way down Lyell Canyon until  almost to Reds Meadow!  May all on-trail hikers have as good a luck in their journeys!
Wildflowers!
Wildflowers!
Arriving before dinner at Thousand Island Lake, we found an isolated spot a long ways above the lake...replete with a stunning view down onto the lake!   And still clear skies graced us overhead!  As day two came to a close,  we knew we had a long day three ahead and were keeping our fingers crossed for no rain.   And with no choice but to yet again  lay  our bags under the open skies...we took full advantage of our forced situation and  once again also savored the amazing show above us  to the fullest.
But still...as we lay under the stars that night savoring the stillness and quietude and display of amazing stars sprinkled with shooting stars...there was yet always that little bit of unease marking those days and nights of the gamble we were taking by hiking so far with no shelter of any kind.  Would our foolishness be our undoing?  Would we make it  that last night before Red's Meadow and civilization and through that next long day til we could make it to shelter?
To be continued.....

The John Muir Trail Part 4

The John Muir Trail
A remote point to point 200 plus mile backpack spanning from Yosemite to the top of Mt Whitney (with another 11 miles from the top of Mt Whitney to the trailhead)
Crashed on a bench above Lyell Canyon in Yosemite
As we meandered up the rare flat section of trail that extends the length of Lyell Canyon in Yosemite, we enjoyed the morning sun's rays and quietly babbling waters sliding past us  downstream traveling  the opposite direction as us.  Several miles passed in this idyllic fashion before I suddenly realized I no longer heard Gary's footsteps behind me and turned to see what could have stalled him.   I will never forget the frozen blank look on his face.   Trying  urgently to get him to answer me and tell me what was the matter, it was probably only moments but seemed like minutes before he finally uttered the words  "we have no tent."
I think Gary and I must have stood there staring at each other a good two minutes while we each digested what had happened to bring us miles into our JMT hike with no tent or shelter between us.   We then stood spinning possible solutions to our dilemma in our minds,  then mulling over our options together.    A couple things were decided.    First, that neither of us wanted to double back to the car and take the resulting drive to an outfitter to find a new tent,  and secondly,  that we had a pretty good gamble on about three days good weather due to Gary's having studied the weather intently the night before we left.  We also knew for sure by now though,  that between us, we had no shelter of any kind.   In year's past we had always carried a tube tent, a tubular piece of plastic that is a great quick shelter once a string is passed thru it and tied to trees, that could also double as a ground sheet under tents or bags.   But alas,   we didn't even have our  tube tent with us as in an effort to shave ounces on our ground sheet,  we had opted instead for a lighter tiny piece of filmy plastic weighing only 2 ounces.   Thus,  we had no tent,  no tarp, no ground sheet large enuf to cover us...we had absolutely nothing large enough to cover us in our bags should we be caught out in the rain!
After standing in the meadow for several minutes while each  shifted our weight from foot to foot compensating for the heft of our packs without the forward motion of hiking to take our minds off them, ultimately we did indeed decide to continue on.  We had allotted 5 days til our first resupply at Red's Meadow near Devil's Postpile.   Not trusting the weather to hold for five full days now however,  we decided if we were to gamble on making it without shelter to our first resupply, that we needed to double time it and shoot for Red's in three days!
Once making the decision to continue on,  and to hike faster than before, we poured on the coals.   Making it the rest of the way up Lyell Canyon,  we found a lovely bench above the canyon affording us a wonderful view back down canyon to Tuolumne meadows.
First night above Lyell Canyon
First night's camp above Lyell Canyon
Would we make it to Red's Meadow resupply in three days?
Would we make it to shelter before any storms overtook us?
To be continued....:)

My First Sleeping Bag!


Christmas and I’m 4 yrs old…my brothers,   5 and 7 years older than me, get brand new flannel lined sleeping bags and I don’t get one!  I cry my eyes out inconsolably.  All I want is a sleeping bag like my brothers so I can  sleep outside too.  After awhile my mom gets a fantastic idea to solve this, and takes 2 old cotton blankets and folds them lengthwise and sews them together leaving the top couple of feet unsewed so I can get in and out.  I am thrilled!  My first sleeping bag! Summer comes and I am camping out in the backyard in my homemade sleeping bag under the stars with my big brothers, and they are telling me all about the constellations and how far the stars are from us…. and I discover some of life’s greatest pleasures!  That was 55 years ago and I have been hiking and camping and backpacking ever since.  Watch this site grow as I share the secrets that kept me happy in the backcountry: the right equipment, the places to go, the tools of the trade…with stories to entertain you as you learn!:)

Friday, July 18, 2014

The John Muir Trail - part 3


Along the John Muir Trail...
Along the John Muir Trail...
A remote point to point 200 plus mile backpack spanning from Yosemite to the top of Mt Whitney (with another 11 miles from the top of Mt Whitney to the trailhead)

I remember reading a post made by a long distance hiker one time in a backpacking forum.  That long distance hiker had simply said that if you really want to hike a long distance trail, then that is what you choose to do over family, career, mortgages etc.  So true of course.  However, I already had family, career, mortgages etc so his advice wasn't of much help to me.  But,  over the years the JMT continued to beckon. And  finally in 2006,  there came a time in my life when I had the ability to take a few weeks off work, and so did my husband,  and we knew the JMT was ours!
Preparation began in earnest weeks ahead of our trip, and as the time crept closer to our departure date, the mountain of things on our "to-do" list grew,  like obtaining our wilderness permit, arranging horse care, house and pet care, paying bills, preparing and mailing food drops,  but by the end, we had done it all!  All except pack that is.  Packing was low down on our list as we were frequent backpackers with a printed checklist and all our gear in crates so we simply needed to pull out the crates and using the checklist, pack everything in our packs that we already had preassembled.  Easy as can be and we'd done it a hundred times just that way.
Our crates setting on the bed slowly got emptier and the packs got fuller.  Sleeping bags at the bottom, followed by thicker clothes or tent.  Fully loaded bear canister set vertically in next so it was easily accessible throughout the day.  All the other clothes not being worn stuffed around the outside of the bear can to stabilize it and make it more comfy against our backs.   Ditty bags checked for whatever little misc items we might need.  Water bottles filled and put in their pockets etc etc etc.  We were ready!
The next morning bright and early we set our packs in the car and set off for Yosemite.  We had chosen a Northbound to Southbound trip starting in Yosemite and ending at Mount Whitney for the simple reason that we didn't want to start our trip with the gnarly climb up Whitney from the trailhead.   Rather we wanted to wait til our packs were the lightest and our legs and lungs the strongest at the end of our trip for the climb up Whitney.
Our first day was not spent hiking however, but was instead spent doing a car shuttle and resupply drop off. Going across the Sierra Nevada over Tioga Rd through Yosemite,  and down highway 395,  we made a stop at Red's Meadow via the mandatory shuttle bus, and dropped off the one resupply we did not mail ahead of time.  Getting back in our cars, we drove uneventfully to our JMT exit point at Whitney Portal where we left one car.  We then drove back to Yosemite where we would leave the other car...hiking the 200 miles on the JMT where we would meet up with the car we had left at Whitney Portal once again.
Spending the night in Yosemite at Tuolumne Meadows gave us one much needed night to acclimate to the altitude before hiking.   But, once morning's warm rays hit our faces, we were up and going.  A quick breakfast, donning our packs, locking the car and off we went!
Having set aside 25 days to complete the JMT...we set off anticipating three and a half weeks of the most marvelous hiking journey ever replete with wildflowers, shooting stars, animals  and animal tracks in abundance all ahead of us.   And the promise also of sparkling jewel like lakes ahead, lordly mountain peaks and grandiose vistas all added to the intoxication of finally setting foot on the trail!
In many previous journeys, we already had set foot on the JMT section between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne, and had summited Half Dome as well, so we decided this trip to start our JMT in Tuolumne, and head up Lyell Canyon for our first leg.  Enjoying the warm morning sun and anticipation of weeks of like mornings hiking together, we passed the miles chit chatting and pausing occasionally to savor the river rippling by our side and enticing views of the trail ahead.  It would be hours before the realization would hit us  that we had made a terrible planning and preparation mistake that could jeopardize our whole journey...
To be continued....

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Rattlesnake and Lost in Lost Valley

Rattlesnake and Lost in Lost Valley

Lost Valley

Lush Meadow
Lush Ventana Meadow
                                                          Rattlesnake and Lost in Lost Valley

12 mile out and back (if you can drive the Indians road to Escondido camp… if the road is closed add 3 miles extra each way) easy to moderate backpack in the Ventana Wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest

As a young teen, I had the good fortune to be able to spend a week backpacking sixty miles with a small group of friends. The five of us sweated, cried and laughed together as we explored the incredible Ventana wilderness in Coastal California and explored our own ability to hike long hard days over high peaks and through long valleys. Years later, I longed to revisit a very memorable spot I had discovered that long ago trip with my friends. My husband and kids and I spent a couple days searching for it one weekend many years ago, but had come up just short of our goal and failed in our attempt to revisit my very special spot. A year after being foiled in trying to find my Lost Valley camp in the Ventana Wilderness, we decided to once again return to the Ventana and try to reach it. Starting out later in the year than last time, we were able to access a seasonal road called the Indian’s road that had been closed the previous year. The closure of the Indians Road had added miles to our previous trip and was one reason for our previous failure to find my Lost Valley.  This time we were able to drive all the way to the trailhead at Escondido camp. I took this as a good omen. Our trek to Lost Valley would be shorter by about three miles each way, so we could afford to dawdle and enjoy the trail more. The weather was spectacular. Mosquitos were scarce. This particular trail was practically void of the Ventana’s lush poison oak growths. And, I was going to go back to a camp I knew would be a very special place to share with my family.  The story I relate here was written long ago not long after that trip and then forgotten….I recently came across it tucked away and forgotten on a shelf in a spare bedroom so I brushed it off and made it ready for reading…enjoy!

Decent enough trail....
Decent enough trail….a little disrepair but we’ve had worse
Packs on and belts cinched, we headed on down the trail giggling and teasing each other. We were all in high spirits. The Lost Valley trail is well marked though, so we didn’t stay together long. The kids took off at a clip I couldn’t match. Oh how I remember those days of inching the kids along one foot at a time. They were long gone. Those slow snail like creatures were replaced by humans that seemed to fly up the trails on wide wings. My husband, Gary, would probably have liked to have gone off with them to explore, but to his credit he stayed behind with me. Not that I don’t hike well. I can hike all day, but at a slower steady pace…that’s me.

On the trail to Lost Valley
On the trail to Lost Valley
Finally catching up to the kids at a pass, we all sat and enjoyed a snack together before heading down the other side.
Enjoying the view at the pass....
Enjoying the view at the pass….
Snack on the pass
Snack on the pass
The kids took off ahead as usual, but half way down, we were on the verge of catching up with them again. Nica and Paul were stopped, standing on the edge of the trail staring fixedly down a cliff at something we couldn’t quite see yet. As we came closer to them, I began to see what had had their interest. An enticing rock pool fed by a lovely stream lay about forty feet down the cliff just beckoning for someone to swim in it. We had plenty of time, so we all started to scramble down the hillside. Getting down to it was no easy feat. The cliff was steep, and the soil loose.  But not to be denied, we all somehow managed to get to it. What a beautiful little swimming hole. The water came down from above the trail, and made it’s last twenty feet as a cascading waterfall. Then the pool itself, though made of rock, had a beautiful sandy bottom. Nica was ever the first to want to go in. And her usual tactic was a typical, “I’ll go in if you go in.” Today, she resorted to no such tactic as she was indeed the first in. But she couldn’t keep us from hearing her surprised gasp at the freezing water, so she needn’t bother trying to sucker us all in, we knew right from her expression how cold the water really was. And so it took a bit to get us all in. Gary took the plunge and was in briefly. Paul made it in up to his waist before quitting. Then I finally got my courage up enough to jump in all at once. That water took my breath away! How could a pool so shallow, on such a hot day, and set in baking rock be so cold! So much for our  “warm little swimming hole.” We contented ourselves with sitting on the sides of the pool dangling our feet over the edge. We have dived into 10,000 foot elevation lakes in May and June. We have glided across waterholes of rushing rivers in the backcountry of many a state. Cold water swimming is a special treat for us and a much sought after reward for day’s end on just about every trip we go on. But, this water in the Ventana was unusually cold and we weren’t up to the challenge on this hike.  We stayed and enjoyed the warm afternoon anyway. However, we just couldn’t  sit and enjoy watching that beautiful pool try as we might. No, each one of us kept being lured by that perfect rock bowl with it’s crystal blue water. Just one more dip. We tried talking each other and ourselves into even just jumping in and climbing out right away. It looked soooo good that cold clear water. And the clear water tumbling in from above made it so much more enticing. Each one of us, except maybe Paul who never was tricked by the attractiveness of that pool, kept saying maybe we’d just have one more dip before we went. Just one more dunking. In the end, none of us did brave going in again. We suffered defeat that day, and eventually let that cold water chase us back up the hill and down the trail. Maybe we will go back someday for just one more dip…

Small cascade trailside
Small cascade trailside
Oh well, after leaving the pool and heading down the trail a ways, I finally got my first glimpse of gorgeous green Lost Valley once again. From still a few miles up, it already caught my breath away as the large green meadow stood in relief against the surrounding forest and scrublands. The sight of the meadow from afar took pounds off my pack as I hurried on down the trail anxious to be in my beloved Lost Valley once again.  Not to be denied this time, I was going to return to my favorite place in all the Ventana. I would find that favorite camp spot of my youth once again, and I would recognize it immediately as soon as I laid eyes on it! I remembered that camp as if I had just lain under those tall pines soughing in the breeze above my head just yesterday.  I remembered the bed of pine needles the trees had graciously laid out for visitors. I remembered that wide shallow river crossing and it’s waters cooing and babbling on their journey downstream.   And I remembered the meadow across the river that seemed to go on forever with it’s tall waving grasses and lovely wildflowers. I would be there soon!
The Ventana has some of the loveliest Lupine displays anywhere....
The Ventana has some of the loveliest Lupine displays anywhere….

Another local....
Another local….Yerba Santa
We kept on down the trail as it wound around and around and around the hillsides. Finally at the bottom stopping to rest a few minutes, we were close to where we had given up in our quest the last trip to this area.   So, we knew this time that we still had a good mile or two yet to go. We settled our packs once again on our shoulders and hips and headed off at a fair clip and waded thru the tall grasses in the valley whilst crossing numerous creeklets along the way. This trip I would not be stopping until we got to the famed Lost Valley Creek where my long sought after camp lay.   The one to two miles seemed to last forever before I knew we were for sure getting close enough for me to know we were just about really there.

Finally, at long last, we came through a grove of tall pines to what had to be my Lost Valley ahead. But, as we got closer and closer, something seemed amiss. My Lost Creek had been misplaced.   It was no longer just below the camp as I remembered.   In fact, it was nowhere to be found. Instead of the cool clear babbling brook of my teen years, there was a long hillock below the camp running all along one side similar to a levee. And my camp was nothing like it had been. Apparently many many backpackers and horse packers had discovered my little oasis. Hundreds of feet over the years had turned the soft pine needle bed into inches of dust. To walk around the camp was to kick up enough dust to send one into a fit of coughing. And the green luscious vegetation ringing the camp making it so private had long ago been trampled and disappeared to be replaced by yet more dust. Limbs had been broken off trees for firewood, and soot from decades of fire rings not cleaned up properly was spread everywhere. The tall trees standing so lonely now amid their dust bowl were all that was left of my lovely Lost Valley camp. Quite discouraged, I wandered around studying my valley. Apparently also, some mighty big storms had come through over the years, sending torrents of water down Lost Creek carrying an eventual mountain of dirt down with the torrents to take up residence in my valley right on the site of my lovely creek. The dirt now living where my creek once flowed rerouted my lovely babbling brook far from it’s roots. The levee, while taking some of the charm from the camp by blocking the view of the meadow and creek, at least was a creation of mother nature. But the damage caused by the backpackers and horsepackers overusing this one special spot was discouraging and inexcusable. I would remember this in later years when thinking about backpacking and camping with my own horses. My little oasis was no longer useable as the dust was too thick and there was not a single spot to lay a pad to sleep on. Tiredly we headed back up the trail looking for another suitable spot to rest our heads for the night.

With a little investigation, we came back out to another little meadow with a nearby creek to get our water from . I was almost in tears from exhaustion and disappointment and nothing looked good to me. I felt my trip had been ruined and I was ready to head for home. Between the kids heading up the hills ahead out of sight and me lagging behind so despondently, Gary had his hands full. Gary yelled for the kids to stop, and tried unsuccessfully to reason with me. I had nothing constructive or creative to say. So, Gary made the decision on his own to stop us all in a spot we had seen a bit earlier on the edge of the meadow above the trail.

I followed Gary and the kids up to the meadow’s edge and wandered around hopelessly for a few minutes before deciding to drop my pack and join the group. After sitting a few minutes, I realized maybe this spot wasn’t so bad after all. It was definitely not my Lost Valley camp of long ago that I had dreamt of for so long, but still, it was a pretty little meadow with a few lingering wildflowers to keep us company. We settled back away from the edge of the meadow under some other lovely tall pines to enjoy.

After a bit, I decided to do some exploring with the kids.   The meadow was actually larger than it first looked.  Despite the disappointment in the overused camp, I enjoyed spotting several hobbled horses grazing peacefully nearby. Enjoying their company, we moved around them while circling the meadow.  Once I got a good look at it, I found Gary had picked us quite a lovely little spot to spend the night after all. And we had solitude in our camp. It wouldn’t be til some time had passed before we would realize the horses had brought in a boy scout troop, but they were camped far enough away that we would neither hear nor see them even once that night. And best of all, I was out in the wilds and would be falling asleep under a roof of stars.
Resting after a long hike in....
Resting after a long hike in….

Lucky horses having a yummy meal
Lucky horses having a yummy meal
Journeling in the meadow
Journeling in the meadow
Early evening after checking out the area, we decided to go ahead and fix some supper. Dinner was nothing memorable itself, but what happened afterwards will be fixed forever in my mind.   I had heated up some extra water to wash out my dinner cup. Standing some several feet from camp swishing the water around in my cup to rinse it, I absentmindedly tossed the hot water out from my feet when I suddenly heard it. The strangest noise. It sounded like a sprinkler going round and round, the kind of sprinkler schools use that make a “tsch…tsch…tsch…tsch…” sound as the shooting water taps the sprinkler heads. In the millisecond it took me to hear the sound and realize it was nothing I had ever heard before in the backcountry of nowhere, I was already looking around for the source.   As I glanced down at my feet, I spotted it. There, right at my toes, was a small rattler looking up at me. He had his head cocked sideways looking up at me, much as a puzzled dog will do when he’s trying to figure out what you are saying to him.   And I could tell by the look in his eyes, that he was as startled as I.   I must have just missed him with the water…or maybe not. Then almost simultaneously, we both frantically jumped back from each other, he seemed to jump back a full foot before speeding off into the brush.  And I must have jumped back at least three feet while screaming “Gary” at the top of my lungs! Gary ran over in time to see his hasty retreat, but that was the last we saw of him. Needless to say, we moved our groundsheet and bags just a little further from that bush before we settled in for the night.

During the night, we thought it was mildly possible to have another visit from the little guy, but it was the horses in fact who came calling. Something got them excited at one point and they went running hell bent for leather through the meadow. Luckily we had a large boulder next to us to shy them away, and we had no other near misses that night.
Someone's home....
Someone’s home….

In the morning, we packed up and headed out. This had just been an overnighter. I did in fact end up having the loveliest trip despite finding my Lost Valley of those long ago teen years was truly lost to me. I acquired several valuable lessons that trip. I learned the value in traveling lightly and especially camping lightly in a manner that is now popularly called “Leave No Trace” camping. I learned also something special about snakes that trip.   That snakes can fear us much as we fear them…and oddly enough as a result, making me fear them less forever after in future encounters.   Despite all that we learned and enjoyed of that beautiful little valley, we probably won’t head back to Lost Valley again. There are just too many other trails and too many other lovely places yet to explore. But I got some satisfaction in knowing I could at least locate  special spots again  years later even if changed almost beyond recognition,….and I had the realization that each visit to a special spot is only special in that moment and that you need to make each new moment special for itself.
Pulling gear out into the morning's sun to dry....
Pulling gear out into the morning’s sun to dry….

Close up this dry appearing valley was an extravaganza of wildflowers!
Close up this dry appearing valley was an extravaganza of wildflowers!



Sunday, January 19, 2014

Newer website

Been working off and on on a different site for In Dee's Woods.  Wanted to mention it here in case reading on this dark background is a problem for you.  My brother says the other website is easier on his eyes so it might be on your's too!
http://ndeewoods.com/
Enjoy!