Day Zero started early, since my flight left at 6:40AM. Shortly after 8:00 I was standing in Sacramento, shaking hands with Frank. A short detour followed for emergency surgery on his glasses (a complete frame-ectomy was performed), followed by a whirlwind tour of his home for final packing. Soon we were heading down Highway 99 toward Fresno, looking apprehensively at the clouds packed against the mountains to the east. Frank's pager suggested we call Dan, one of our party who planned to join us for the first few days of the hike. His news was not good - circumstances were failing him, and he might not get to join us at all. We kept our fingers crossed as we climbed higher into the hills, picked up a permit for four and passed the huge sequoia in McKinley Grove. At Wishon Village we grabbed two campsites and were shopping for white gas when someone inquired about the owner of the green minivan outside. It was the voice of our long-shot companion, Bill Finch! His surprise arrival compensated somewhat for the potential loss of Dan, and we three adjourned to the campsite whereupon Bill broke out some beer. As we sipped and discussed our options, a maroon minivan circled the camp area twice. I finally asked what vehicle Del would be driving, and as we pondered the issue the van pulled up and Del jumped out. More beer and introductions followed before we hit the store for dinner. The grey skies and occasional drizzle weren't what we had hoped for, but Bill and I set up for the night while Frank and Del converted their vans into bedrooms.
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