Bubble in the desert

A blog I started whilst on a GE "Bubble" assignment in Nevada. I'm back in Cambridge (UK) now but still miss the desert and my friends out there.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Ogden Meadows campground - hitchhike - Tuolumne North (beautiful) - 15 miles

There was lots of commotion at the camp ground during the wee hours of the morning and I head some snorting around the tent. My beer addled brain prevented me from finding my torch, which was tricky! Eventually the amount of noise from people banging this and that calmed things and sent off any bears I'm sure. In the morning my buddies had heard no sound of bears and just thought noisy people left the campsite early. I am not so sure.

Sienna and the guys dropped me off at Crane Flat's gas station where I hitched a ride back to Tuolumne. It took me 4 minutes to get a ride and the couple who picked me up were super nice. His father is really into the PCT and is a bit of a trail angel. After the long drive back to Tuolumne who should I see at the store but bearded Basil and Bull and a young lady called Heather who they'd bumped in to. Amtrak had already left. We decided to eat a bit more. I asked for a vegetarian breakfast at the cafe and they recommended the "Welfare Special", which was veggie and ok apart from the name. We also rummaged through the very descent hiker box and got some more food and, wow, even purchased some from the store! After a while we had finished eating (quite a long while) and headed off after Amtrak.

I thought it might be hours before we caught him but we soon found him having a rest. Basil's foot was playing up again today and he was quite worried about it. We had met a Sport's Medicine expert at Tuolumne, a really nice lady, who gave him a bit of advice and thought he might have a stress fracture. I have learned that as little as a sore toenail can make you walk funny and that is a bad scene when you are walking a long way with a pack. Basil had previously had other leg problems from walking funny because of his foot.

On the way north from Tuolumne we came upon a ranger (Aaron Smith) who made a big thing of making sure we could see his gun (I missed it) as he asked to see our bear canisters and permits. This is the first time in 560 miles anyone had asked me for a permit. Well, my permit was ok but I had to think fast about the bear canister. I told him I had camped previously with my support person and would meet her again tomorrow and before that had camped in Agnew Meadows where there is bear storage. I told him I had a list of all the official bear storage lockers and he made me show him it (I could have claimed the 5th amendment (??) I think but I complied). The food storage lockers are sometimes over 50 miles apart so for good measure I told him I was an ultra runner and could do big distances. I was subject to considerable piss taking later from coming up with that, particularly when I met Tumbleweed who has clocked up 60,000 running miles in his life (is he indeed a bigger runner than Catra?!).

We saw some wonderful waterfalls, huge and thunderous, and then beautiful high meadows, on the way to Glen Aulin camp ground. What a nice spot. We had a chat with the staff there, one guy was quite a character and was really in to strategy games. After some chat he gave us some free lemonade but we were unable to yogi dinner. Instead we pushed on.

We camped in a bad bear spot. My bear hang was ok but not perfect. I have taken to pitching my tent where I can still see the hang but when it's dark I can't really see it.

We camped near a rushing stream, not great for hearing bears in the night, and quite and obvious and well-used campsite. Bears love well-used campsites and work their routine around such.

Was pleased to wake up in the morning and still have some food left.

It was odd to camp with so many people too. Bull, Basil, Amtrak and I camped up high and Tumbleweed and Happyfeet (a lovely couple) and Heather camped low down, along with another guy out for a few days hiking. No bears at all though and no rangers caught us hanging food.

Basil went to get a sponge bath by a creek and came back clean and was eager to tell everyone how clean he felt so we would all feel the more dirty and sticky. By now it was too cold to go and get a wash so I invented a song for him instead, entitled, "Hey Sticky", based on the 80s classic 'Hey Mickey'. It went something like,

Hey Sticky you're so fine
You're so fine you blow my mind
Hey Sticky!
Hey Sticky!


Trail today was so beautiful it was reason enough to hike. Nice to see new flowers with each slight transition north. We met some fishermen and told them of Golden Trout we had seen being csught further south. They hardly believed us. Everything seems to exist in small eco systems. How fragile they seem. It's a thrill to suddenly see a new flower or new mammal you have not come across for hundreds of miles, as you walk north. I distinctly remember seeing my first ferns after going over many passes and through many canyons, then suddenly, one canyon has ferns. Sometimes you see a flower that is very distinctive, that you are certain you have not seen before, which only seems to grow on one side of a particular mountain and doesn't appear anywhere in hundreds of miles before or after this spot.

The food Sienna got me was great, particularly the spinach salad with mushrooms, almonds and cranberries; and those guava fruit things we're great. Awesome - how will I ever repay her.


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