Labor Day is past, but I'm still on the natural high from the camping trip Gill
and I took to Devil's Postpile over the
weekend. The weather was just about perfect and the area is as gorgeous as
you'd expect being in such close proximity to Yosemite.
We arrived about an hour before sunset on Thursday and found a campsite near
the river, set up camp and ate a simple dinner under the stars and nearly full
moon before bed. Friday we did the short hike down to the
the postpile formation itself. I was duly impressed: it's a
large mass of volcanic rock that separated into enormous hexagonal columns when
it cooled. We continued onto Rainbow Falls (too many clouds for a rainbow when
we got there) and down to Little Falls further down the river where we had a
lunch on a rock out in the middle of the falls. I couldn't convice Gill to
swim in the pools below the falls. I can't blame her, someone told us the
water was 40 degrees. We headed back to camp through a section of the forest
still badly scarred by the large 1992 Rainbow Falls Fire (change of scenery
indeed!) and got back early enough to prepare our one elaborate dinner (well
not that elaborate, but everything tastes better when camping).
Saturday was to be our hike to get away from the anticipated Labor Day crowds.
We set out across the river and were planning to leave the John Muir
Trail to go up to Lake Emily which is at about 10000' (camp was at 7500').
Though the trail we were to take was on the topo map I had, we started to lose
it after a mile or so. We did a tiny bit of rock climbing (yay!) to scale a
20' face (I did say tiny) and had lunch up in the sun and decided the idea of
getting lost and spending the night out there was unappealing so we decided to
head back to the JMT and head north. We still wound up climbing to about 9650'
and Gill (who has asthma) started to have some real trouble with the altitude.
She was a trooper, though, and after some rest we pushed on and were rewarded
with some staggering views of the lakes and and landscapes. My favorite, I
think, was Lake Rosalie (whoever named all of these was clearly obsessed with
the ladies), we're already talking about doing a backcountry trip and camping
along it. The northern reach of our hike was the loop around Shadow Lake at
which point we hiked alongside the waterfalls back east to the river which we
followed back to our camp.
In the end I calculate we did about 18 miles that day and it really took a
toll. Even though Gill was the one having trouble early on, I was far worse
off at the end of the trip. I staggered into our camp with an increasingly bad
headache. Gill made dinner and gave me lots of water and after a couple of
hours I had recovered. We certainly bit off a little too much that day but
neither of us had any regrets.
Sunday we took a bit easier with a leisurely breakfast on the river bank before
packing up our camp and heading back home. We stopped along the way at some
hot springs before heading over the pass again. That was just the ticket. It
would have been wonderful to soak all day, but with the long drive ahead we
left after an hour or so and got home around sunset.
At some point I found out that this was Gill's first "real" camping trip and
she took right to it. This is great news as I hope to do a lot more in the
future than I have been.
My own photos will eventually make it to the web...