Daily Archives: July 4, 2014

July 4, 1987: Finally, Backcountry!

Happy Fourth of July!

Well, we finally made it to the Backcountry. We’re here at Vogelsang, and I’m actually kind of glad we won’t be changing camps again. It’s such a pain. Especially when your first priority gear doesn’t get here until the third day.

Vogelsang Peak photo 30.jpg

Our camp is at the base of Vogelsang Peak, just down the trail from the High Sierra camp. I think this is the best camp we’ve had yet. It took a long time to get camp set up 100%. We worked until 6 or 7 o’clock all last week, except Thursday, when we got off a little early.

Lucky me had KP yesterday, so I missed out on the three day hikes this weekend. When I got off last night I tried to catch up with Wayne, Anne, and Dewey over at Nelson Lake, but I didn’t make it. I had a killer time anyway. I left camp about 20:00, but still hadn’t made it over the ridge by dark, so I settled in on a ledge on the hillside for the night. I woke up at about 05:30 and at 06:00 started trying to find my way over the ridge. At about 08:00 I decided that I probably wouldn’t catch them at Nelson Lake, so I started for home. I happened to hit upon an old trail not marked on the map which led to the main trail up here and was home in time for breakfast.

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Categories: Backcountry, Backpacking, CCC, Hiking, Vogelsang, Yosemite | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

An Alpine Independance Day

July 4, 1987: I woke up on my perch above Rafferty Meadows. The sun hadn’t cleared the mountain ranges to the east yet, but I was still in full daylight. It was about 5:30 AM. I crawled out of my bag and hoped onto a higher rock. I let my bare feet dangle over the edge as I soaked in the morning view. Vogelsang and Fletcher Peaks stood tall across the canyon. I could barely make out the yellow rain flies of our camp right below Vogelsang. It still looked dark down there in Fletcher’s shadow.

Vogelsang Camp From Across the Canyon photo 35-1.jpg

As I breakfasted on GORP and water, I sketched out a plan. I was an early riser, even for a trail crew. It was possible, if I got over the ridge in the next hour or so, to catch up with Anne’s group at Nelson Lake before they pressed on. I gathered up my stuff and resumed my way through the boulders.

An hour later, I was still nowhere near to being over the ridge. I kept running into walls and crevasses. I reached a point where I had to admit there was no way I was getting to Nelson Lake before they left. I took my pack off for a short break and started my way back down.

About half-way down the ridge I stumbled across something odd. It looked like a faint trail, following the contour along the ridge. It looked like it had not been maintained in years, but it sure looked like a trail. I decided it was a good time for a break as I shed my pack and broke out the topo map one more time.

The only trail showing on the map was the causeway through the bottom of Rafferty Meadows. No other trail at all appeared on the map through this canyon. I studied the lay of this ‘phantom’ trail again. It was possible this was just a game trail, but I didn’t think there was enough game this high to leave a trail. I left my pack on the ground and followed the trail south about thirty yards until I found a water bar across the trail. That clinched it! This was definitely a trail! Now I was curious about where this unmarked trail led. I retrieved my pack and headed south. The only reason I could think of for this trail to be here was if it was an old cavalry trail. I daydreamed about cavalry troopers riding through these mountains.

At the top of Rafferty Meadow, the trail dropped down off the contour. I lost the trail several times once it got lower. It practically disappeared. I couldn’t tell where it was by the break in the contour like a trail had. I stopped seeing water bars. The right of way was overgrown. Once I lost the trail, I had to stand still, look ahead, and ask myself where I would route the trail ahead. I would catch glimpses of trail clues every once in a while for about fifty yards. As I worked my way through the overgrown brush, I suddenly popped out onto the main trail through Rafferty Meadow! I could not see the main trail until I was actually out on it.

Well…that was a fun adventure!

I even made it back to camp in time for brunch. I spent the rest of July 4th, 1987 catching up on laundry and reading more David Copperfield.

Considering that I had managed to go on an authorized independent but illegal solo hike, I think it was an appropriate Independence Day.

Categories: Backcountry, Backpacking, CCC, Vogelsang, Yosemite | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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