Before the season started, I had been invited to be the best man at my friend Doug’s wedding in August back in Wisconsin. I got early permission from Moose to take a week off and go. I had my permission weeks before the season started. The best move would have been to buy my airline tickets before the season started. However, I still needed to buy my Backcountry gear, too. A sleeping bag and backpack alone were going to cost me a few hundred dollars. Remember, this was in 1987. We worked for the minimum wage of $3.35 an hour.
Besides, I figured that I had plenty of time to buy the tickets. When I had come to California the previous August, I had purchased my tickets over the phone only one week before I wanted to fly. I still had plenty of time.
The first six weeks of the season were so busy that while I was vaguely aware of a wedding I need to be at, actually getting around to buying the tickets totally slipped my mind. I finally made the call from Tuolumne at the end of June. The airline policies had changed in the past year, however. The last time I had bought tickets, I reserved them over the phone and paid for them when I arrived at the airport for my flight. Now they told me that I needed a credit card. I had never even had a credit card. This was not good.
I tried to brainstorm a way to get the tickets. About ten days before I needed to leave, I mentioned my problem around the camp fire one night.
Marty asked, “Do you have the money for the tickets right now?”
“You can use my credit card. Just give me the cash.”
“Wow! Thanks, Marty!”
Time was really getting down to the wire. I needed to get down to a phone at Tuolumne Meadows that weekend or I could forget buying tickets in advance. I needed one person to go with me, considering the minimum of two people needed with any group leaving camp on a trail. Most everybody already had plans, but there was one person I could count on to be available. I convinced Derek it would be good for him to get out of camp one more time and hike with me down to Tuolumne.
We left camp well before brunch. We planned on hanging out down in Tuolumne Meadows for a few hours before heading back to camp for dinner. The Rafferty Trail was becoming as familiar to us as our hometown neighborhoods had been.
About three miles down the trail, who should we run into but Rollie…running back up the trail! We all stopped long enough to exchange greetings. It turned out that Rollie had been getting up early every Saturday to run the seven miles down to Tuolumne Meadows for a few beers, and then run back up to camp in time for brunch at 10:00! Wow!
Derek and I took our ‘lazy man’ time to finish hiking down to Tuolumne. I made the airline reservations for the next week, paid for with a credit card. I was happy. Life was good!