Who Goes to the Backcountry?

What makes a person apply to the California Conservation Corps’ Backcountry Trail Crew Program? What kind of people volunteer to go live out of a backpack for six months, doing back breaking labor, with a crew of people you did not know before the season started? What prepares a person for this kind of adventure?

There is no one size fits all answer. We are people who love adventure. We are people who love the outdoors and want to experience the outdoors in a bigger, more immersive way than we had ever thought possible. Outside of those basic traits, we are people who are hard to categorize. Some of us come from the inner city, have never really experienced the outdoors before, and are only one step ahead of serious trouble without a significant life change. Others are rural raised who want to test our outdoors skills to the limit. Some prefer rock music. Some prefer country. Some prefer hip hop. And we are everything in between.

The one thing I know for sure is my own background that took me to the Backcountry. I think there are a couple of factors that led to my volunteering for a Backcountry trail crew. I grew up in a semi-rural area, and spent a lot of time outdoors. I was challenged by reading in history of people overcoming difficult circumstances. People like the pioneers as they drove their wagon trains west through the plains and the deserts. People like the Army veterans enduring frozen Bastogne, and the Chosin Reservoir. I wondered if I might be made of the same stuff as they were. I grew up thinking that the military was going to be my ticket to this adventure and self-discovery, but that was not to be.

I grew up in Round Lake, Illinois. We were in Lake County, between Chicago and Wisconsin. We lived on the border between the suburbs and ‘the country’. Many people in Round Lake commuted to Chicago or the ‘real’ suburbs for work. Our part of the county still had dairy farms, corn fields, and orchards. We lived in neighborhoods, just like the suburbs, but we didn’t have sidewalks. We were also lucky enough to live close to plenty of open spaces. I lived less than a mile away from my favorite open space haunt…The Ridge.

‘The Ridge’ was a general term for an open space south of Long Lake which covered a lot more than just the ridge. It was over two hundred acres of swamp, rolling pasture, and a huge hill. A creek flowed south out of Long Lake. The creek left the lake through a marsh. A steep hill rose quickly from the marsh. The creek cut through the middle of the hill, leaving a steep ridge on both sides of the creek. The ridges were covered with deciduous trees, mostly oak. The Ridge had two main trails. One followed the crest. The other circled all the way around the base. Connecting trails between the crest and base were few.

Between the ridge proper and the nearest homes on Villa Vista Way was a big field we called ‘the cow pasture’. We never saw any cows on it, and the grass grew tall enough in it to prove that domestic animals no longer grazed there. The cow pasture was relatively flat with some gentle rolls. From the trail at the base of the ridge, you could see across the pasture to the houses on Villa Vista. An occasional scrub oak or crabapple tree popped up here and there around the pasture.

This was my playground through junior high and high school in the late ’70s and early ’80s. If I wasn’t building World War Two airplane models or playing board wargames, I could usually be found out on The Ridge. My best friend Jerry lived at the end of Villa Vista, on the edge of the cow pasture. Ridge adventures usually started at Jerry’s house. We played a lot of Army on The Ridge in junior high school. By high school we had been bitten by the Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons bug. I read about the Society for Creative Anachronism. The SCA was a group of people who enjoyed dressing up in medieval garb and role playing the adventurous and glamorous parts of medieval life. (Reenacting the plague, for instance, was not so popular.) I read about the rules the SCA established to guide play acting sword fights and tournaments. By the next weekend we all had our makeshift swords and shields, and were running around the ridge bashing on each other with lumber.

My first non-family camping experiences were out on The Ridge. The Ridge did have another local nickname, Reefer Ridge. If you talked about camping on The Ridge, people assumed it was for partying, but that was not the kind of camping we did. We would have a fire, and a boom box with a stack of cassette tapes, sleeping bags, and munchies. Great times.

The Ridge was even a winter playground. We didn’t head out as often in the winter as we did in the summer, but we did explore the snow covered woods. We learned how to move through deep snow drifts and avoid hypothermia. There was a great sledding hill across the creek and past the ridge. The crowds would go to Hart’s Hill. We had our own private hill.

One day after high school, my friend Mark ‘The Barbarian’ Rhodes and I were talking at my kitchen table. We were talking about the wilderness and camping, and how much fun it would be to take off to the woods and never come back. We called it a ‘permanent camping trip’.

My Mom was listening in to the conversation, and said that it sounded like a great idea. She told us that we had better do something like that pretty soon, though, because once we got settled in with careers and families we would never have the opportunity again.

Mom’s advice was definitely on my mind when I headed for California a few years later, and ultimately, the Backcountry. The Ridge was my training ground for so many of the things I was to achieve on a Yosemite Backcountry trail crew.

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Sleeping Bags

Your sleeping bag is a very important piece of equipment on a trail crew. It can mean the difference between a good night’s sleep, and adding to the exhaustion that you are already going to experience working harder than you ever have before. It might even mean the difference between frostbite or not.

I had a North Face Bigfoot. When I was buying gear for my summer in Yosemite, the Bigfoot was all the rage. Not everybody had one, but it seemed like everybody raved over how awesome they were. I bought mine at The North Face Outlet in Berkeley. It was a ‘second’, which meant that it had some sort of cosmetic factory defect that prevented North Face from selling it at full value. I received a good discount on the price, and it was a fully functional bag. It was rated to -5°F, which meant that it was ‘guaranteed’ to preserve your body heat at temperatures down to five degrees below zero Fahrenheit. This was a limited ‘guarantee’ (in quotes) because everybody sleeps differently. What might keep one person warm at zero degrees might not keep a ‘cold sleeper’ warm at thirty degrees.

My bag was also a ‘long’. It was designed longer for tall people. I’m not tall, so according to conventional sleeping bag wisdom, the extra length would be extra space for my body heat to keep warm and therefore not very efficient. I figured the extra foot space would be helpful for stuffing clothes down into to keep them warm for the next day. It worked. I really loved my sleeping bag.

My Bigfoot’s design limits were not tested in Yosemite. Apart from that one Arctic front that came through at the end of July, we had pretty mild weather all summer in Yosemite. My bag got tested the next year, 1988, on a regular CCC trails spike on Orleans Mountain in the Klamath Mountains. Our spike was the first week of June, and one morning we woke to find ourselves buried under about eighteen inches of snow. We were snowed in for four days before the four wheel drive vehicles could get in to bring us out. I stayed snug in my two-person backpacking tent and my Bigfoot. It worked like a champ.

My bag’s biggest test came the next year, 1989, in Kings Canyon National Park. We had a spike camp on Glenn Pass late in September. Now that was cold. We didn’t have a thermometer, so I have no idea how cold it actually got. I do know that water was frozen solid every morning. I also know that my trusty, dependable -5° bag did not keep me warm. In fairness to the Bigfoot, it was two years old and likely had lost some loft…the ‘fluffiness’ of the insulation that helps retain heat…but I have never been so cold as on those nights at Glenn Pass sleeping in the cook tent, trying to pile boxes and produce around my bag to improve the insulation.

These lessons learned handed down to another generation of trail workers. When I was a C-1 at Delta Center in Stockton, I took the Corpsmembers who had been selected for the Backcountry program on a supply buying trip to Berkeley. The salespeople kept trying to push ‘summer’ bags on the Corpies. Summer bags are only rated to about 40°. They are not even close to being adequate for serious trail crew equipment. A couple of the Corpsmembers seemed on the verge of the summer bags because of cost and weight. I asked them, “Do you know where you’re going to be in September?”

Their only possible reply was, “No.”

“It gets pretty cold at ten thousand feet in September. If you buy the summer bag, you are gambling on where you are going to be when it turns cold.”

They all bought the better bags. After the season, I heard back from some of them “Thank you for pushing the better bag!”

I still have my Bigfoot, twenty-seven years later. It doesn’t go on the trail anymore. The zipper blew out about ten years ago. The outer shell is torn in a couple of places. It mainly gets rolled out when the kids have friends sleeping over, or if I am going somewhere overnight and I’m not sure of the lodging accommodations. One thing is for sure…it’s not being tossed out into the trash.

Trail dust is thicker than blood.

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Reymann Lake

The cold front had finally passed by August 1. Spirits lifted. I had spent the last couple of weekends being a camp slug. I couldn’t do that three weeks in a row, so I planned an overnight trip to Reymann Lake with Dewey and Derrick.

I enjoyed spending time with Dewey. There was nothing complicated about Dewey. He always saw the positive side of everything. He had quite the imagination, too. He had an imaginary Martian friend he would talk to. His Martian friend’s name was Moshkylogy (MOSH-kĭ-LOG-ee). Dewey made crew journal entries for Moshky. Dewey even demonstrated for us how the Martian language sounds. Moose even learned some Martian. She had some lively Martian conversations with Dewey! I know…it sounds weird. But Dewey had such an innocent naïveté about him that it wasn’t weird at all. It was kinda fun and added character to the crew.

Derek was an alternate who joined the crew just before we left Wawona. When he was off duty, Derek always wore his black beret and gray camo pants. Most weekends, Derek didn’t want to leave camp. He just wanted to hang out and read military history.

During the week I had been talking with Derek about being a camp slug. I was falling into a rut that I didn’t really want to be in. Derek realized that summer was passing us by and he hadn’t been out to see anything yet. I talked him into going with me to Reymann Lake, the place where I had tried to catch up with Anne and Wayne on the July 4th weekend. Dewey thought it would be a good hike and offered to join us. Since we needed three anyway for a cross country hike, it was a perfect plan. We talked about the hike for the rest of the week.

Saturday morning rolled around. I had lost almost all of my motivation for a cross country hike. Derek didn’t seem very motivated, either. Dewey, now…Dewey was motivated! He chattered all morning about going on a cross country hike with his good buddies George and Derek. I couldn’t let Dewey down. I decided to suck it up and go. Derek still wasn’t sure he wanted to go, until I pointed out that we needed three people for a cross country hike. If Derek didn’t go, Dewey and I couldn’t go, either. The guilt trip worked! We left camp right after brunch.

I already knew from my failed solo attempt over Rafferty that I had tried to cross the ridge too far south. We continued north on the Rafferty trail past the creek we saw marked on the map before we headed up the ridge. We spent the afternoon picking our way around and up our friends, the boulders. We crested the ridge in the perfect spot. We had a pretty easy decent to Reymann Lake. We found a good camping spot far enough away from the lake among some erratic boulders. Erratics are big boulders dropped in unusual places by retreating glaciers. These boulders were eight or ten feet tall. A lodgepole forest had grown up around them. We had a great time finding different routes for climbing them. One thing they all had in common…marmot scat proved they had all been used as marmot lookouts!

We spent the rest of the day lounging around the lake. Dewey took a nap under a tree. Derek read his book. I took a long time to write a short journal entry. I spent the afternoon simply slow watching.

We had a quiet dinner, talking about who we were, where we were from, and where we wanted to go. The quiet conversation continued as the sun set. Wilderness rules said that we could not have an open fire here, so when the sun went down for the night, so did we.

I was awake at sunrise the next morning, as usual. The first one awake, as usual. Sunrise has always been my favorite time of day. Darkness goes away. New light promises that anything can happen. Reymann Lake’s surface was perfectly still. Birds were starting their day. It was a beautiful time to breathe deeply of the crisp alpine air and slow watch.

Life was good.

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August 1, 1987: Glad I Came

Here I sit on the bank of Reyman Lake with Dewey and Derek. It was just a short hike, but we’re all pretty tired just the same. Dewey is crashed out under a tree. Derek is kicking back against a rock reading a book.

Like I said, it was just a short hike around Rafferty Peak, but to be honest Derek and I didn’t really want to come in the fir t place. Derek and Dewey don’t know it, but I’ve been so tired from work that I haven’t felt like doing anything for the last couple of weekends. I just don’t want to be a proverbial camp slug. The only reason I came today was because I’ve been telling Dewey and Derek I was going to.

Now that I’m here, I’m glad I came. With everyone so quiet the animals and birds are resuming their normal activities around us. A couple mountain chickadees were feeding in the trees above us; a squirrel is playing in the tree in front of me.

I guess I’m not like most backcountry types who are into hiking marathons and peak bagging. I like to go someplace and stick around a while. Sure Jose and Rolando did Amelia Earhart Peak. But do they know about the rock rabbits and marmots that live up there? Jose insisted that marmots wouldn’t live up there, but I saw one right at the peak. Do they know how beautiful the moonlight is reflecting off the glacial polish down by Ireland Lake?

I agree with Tom Brown’s philosophy that we have to slow down and become a participant with nature, not just rush right through it. To me it is more desirable to sit quietly in one place for an hour or two just to get a glimpse of nature as it accepts my presence and resumes its normal activities, than it is to hike for an hour or two just to see how far I can get. When you’re hiking, all you see are rocks and trees and glimpses of animals and birds as they hurry to get away from you. And the only reason the rocks and trees don’t run is because they can’t.

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July 12, 1987: Moon Glow

Last night on the peak was incredible. We turned in early, but when I woke up at about 10:45-11:00 the clouds had cleared up and all the mountains in sight were aglow in the moonlight.

Today when we hiked down we stopped at Ireland Lake and Anne swam around in it, then we stopped at Evelyn Lake while Anne swam across it.
I forgot to bring a cup on this expedition, so I had to improvise. I ate my can of Dinty Moore, then wiped it as clean as I could with bread. There was some burned crud on the bottom, so I poured a little water in it and scrapped it out with my fork. Instant cup/bowl. I had a lemon aid snow cone in it last night and a cup of tea in it this morning.

I was thinking today about all of my buddies from Illinois. When Doug gets married next month, every one of them will be tied down to a family and a respectable job. I’m the only one left. The song ‘Freebird’ keeps coming to mind. (“‘Cause I’m as free as a bird, now. And this bird you cannot change. Lord knows it can’t change.”) Kind of a bittersweet feeling. My horizons are wide open and anything can happen. But it probably won’t happen with any of them. Also, I’d like a wife and a family and a nice stable life, too. But not yet. The time isn’t right.

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Amelia and Ireland

Sunrise on Amelia Earhart Peak was cold and clear. Instant oatmeal and hot tea really hit the spot. I had forgotten to bring a cup, so the empty can from my Dinty Moore Beef Stew dinner worked as a handy substitute. The Whisperlite backpacking stove seemed like the most wonderful invention of all time that morning. The Whisperlite is a one-burner stove that folds down into a very compact package to fit into a backpack. It runs on white gasoline, the same fuel that your typical Coleman camping stove uses. The Whisperlite burns hot and can boil water very quickly.

I think we were ‘peaked out’ by now and ready to head for home. Climbing down never seems to be as fulfilling as climbing up. We retraced our steps down the ridge and then through the talus of the lower slopes.

We reached the basin at the bottom of the mountain and headed up to Ireland Lake. Anne had a splendid goal for her Backcountry season. She wanted to swim across every lake that she encountered. This was going to be her last chance at Ireland Lake on this trip.

As we hiked along the base of Amelia Earhart Peak we hiked up to the snowfield that was still present near the lake. Yes…there was still snow on the ground in July at that altitude! Pink stains marred this particular patch of snow in several places. I had read about pink snow, but this was the first time I had seen it. It was caused by an algae that lived in the snow and grew in the springtime before the snow melted. Most people have heard the warning not to eat yellow snow. One should not eat pink snow, either. Pink snow could cause problems with your digestion.

Anne had anticipated a swim today, so she already wore her swimsuit under her shorts and tank top. She dove in and swam out to the middle of the lake. I dropped my pack to the ground and used it as a lounger as I just took in the incredible day in the mountains.

Waiting For Anne to Swin a Lake photo 31-1.jpg
Photo courtesy of Diane C. Brown

Sunday dinner back at camp is always good after a weekend like that.

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July 11, 1987: First Peak

Amelia Earhart Peak. Killer view before the fog rolled in. Well, for us it’s fog. Back at camp it’s probably just overcast.

I signed the register here “My first peak. We ain’t got nothin’ like this in Illinois.”

I’m here with Anne and Moose, the surviving Del Nortians.

Looking down on Ireland Lake,, you can see all the tracks from the glacier that moseyed on through; the scratches, glacial polish, assorted debris.

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My First Peak

The weekend after my solo adventure I went on a legal cross-country overnighter. Moose wanted to climb Amelia Earhart Peak. Anne and I volunteered to go with her.

We left camp after brunch and camp chores on Saturday. We hiked past the High Sierra Camp and then turned east off the trail. We had to climb over one ridge (more boulders) and cross the Ireland Lake basin to get to Amelia Earhart Peak.

Amelia Earhart Peak photo 33.jpg
Amelia Earhart Peak. We were headed to the low spot on the left.

The Ireland Lake basin is a perfect example of glacier action in Yosemite. Millennia ago, there was so much snow and ice packed down into this little valley that weight and gravity did their job. As the ice slowly slid downhill, it carved out the u-shaped valley that now existed. The ridge that we had to cross to get into this basin is what geologists call a ‘lateral moraine’. As glaciers carve their way downhill, they push rock and dirt debris, or til, out of the way. This debris gets pushed either off to the side (a lateral moraine) or in front (a terminal moraine) of the glacier. As we hiked across the floor of the basin, we could see and feel the granite slickrock that had been polished smooth by the abrasives carried along by the ice. The polished granite in the Yosemite wilderness could be as smooth as a cut countertop. If you got close enough, you could see the individual quartz crystals in the granite. What a world this was!

Moose and Anne were such great company. They are both happy, upbeat and positive people with great senses of humor. Anne is also a very punny person!

Climbing Ameila Earhart Peak photo 37.jpg
Can you see Moose?

Moose led the way up Amelia Earhart. We went up the left side of the mountain to hit the ridge where it was relatively low. The plan was that if we got up on the ridge, we could walk easier up the ridge to the peak than we could by bouldering all the way to the top.
We worked our way slowly but steadily up. Most of the climbing was similar to what I had done a week before on Rafferty, with only two differences. For one thing, this one went a lot higher. More importantly, we weren’t trying to beat sundown, so we had plenty of time to pick our route. That made all the difference. Eventually, we made it to the top of the ridge. Making it to the peak was now a simple matter of walking up the incline.

Yeah. Simple.

Almost nothing in the mountains is as smooth and simple as it looks on a topo map or in a long distance panoramic photo. Some sections of the ridge were open enough to simply hike up. These sections always had steep cliffs dropping off both sides of the trail. Sometimes it felt as though we were literally walking up the razor’s edge. These are the sections that an acrophobic would not make it through.
Other sections of the ridge get wider and steeper, so that you are once again heading up a near vertical surface. Sometimes there is only one way up through the rocks. There can be a well-defined trail going up these sections. We got to use some of our newly acquired climbing skills to get through some of these sections. In fact, there were a couple places where we had to ask ourselves “Are we going to be able to get back down here without ropes?”

By mid-afternoon we were at the summit—11,982 feet.

Obviously, we were not the first ones in history to summit Amelia Earhart Peak. However, it was surprising to find signs that someone had been there in just the last few days. A pair of very small, brand new flags…maybe six inches high…had been planted at the summit. One was an American flag. The other had a star field and said ‘The 96ers’. We had no idea what that meant. I later learned that they were a climbing group focusing on peaks higher than 9,600 feet.

Almost the first thing that Moose and Anne did upon reaching the summit was search for the peak register. Most named peaks have some way for people who make it to the top to leave a record of their ascent. We found an ammo can under a little shrine-like structure built out of…of course…rocks! This helped protect the can somewhat from the elements.

Inside the ammo can was a small spiral notepad and some short stubby pencils. People had been recording their names, where they were from, the date they summited, and sometimes even their thoughts on top of the mountain. I signed it “My first peak. We ain’t got nothin’ like this in Illinois!”

Now, peak baggers might have stayed there to eat lunch before racing back down and moving on to the next peak. We moved in to stay! Moose gave Anne and me a tour of every peak in sight. She seemed to know something about the history, geography, and geology of every peak around. Moose knew a lot of those things because she had run Backcountry crews right across the border in Inyo National Forest, around Mount Dana, Mount Ritter, Banner Peak, and Kuna Peak. What an afternoon that was!

Around late afternoon or early evening, clouds started rolling in. The sunset light through the clouds, which quickly became fog for us, became an ever-changing kaleidoscope of pinks and purples. I had never seen a show like it, and the admission price had simply been a good workout and some sweat. Well before sundown the clouds had socked the peak in so much that the three of us could barely see past each other. Everybody decided to turn in early and see what the morning brought. I took my sleeping bag and pad down from the peak a few steps onto the west side. Sleep came quickly.

Bunking on Amelia Earhart Peak photo 32.jpg
Bunking on Amelia Earhart Peak

I woke up in the middle of the night. I looked up and the skies were clear. I put my glasses on and laid back to enjoy the sky show. I had never seen the sky so clear. Even with the full moon, I could see more stars than I ever had before in my life. If you stare at a clear sky like that long enough, vertigo can sneak up on you. I suddenly saw such depth of field to all those stars, I felt like I was going to fall upwards into them. I looked down over the edge of the rocks to shake off the vertigo…and saw the entire Ireland Lake basin sparkling in the moonlight! I had never seen anything like this, either! It took me a minute to figure out just what I was seeing. The glacial polished granite on the basin floor was smooth enough to reflect moonlight! I never even tried to go for my camera. There was no way this was going to come out on 400 speed film with my point and shoot. All I could do was sit there and stare at the beauty below.

How many people have had the opportunity to sit on top of a 12,000 foot mountain looking down at such a light show in the beautiful remnant of a glacier track? I could not believe how much I had been blessed to witness these works of God’s art that so few people had ever seen.

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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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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.

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