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We awoke to typical clear-blue skies, with a bit of frost at Trumbull Lake. Once more we drove to the permit station at Mono Lake, where I picked up our wilderness permit (Scott had reached them in time the day before). Then it was off to the trailhead via several short stretches of gravel road. A locked gate barred the road to our trailhead at Sawmill Canyon, so we went to plan B: the trail adjacent to Walker Lake. We followed signs to the trailhead and parked in a large parking area with only two other cars. I left a phone message for Wally to tell him how to reach our car, then got ready to hike. I noticed my car window was down an inch, and having seen what bear-claws can do to a partially-open window, I rolled it up tightly. We were off!

Truly we were off - in less than a minute we crested a small hill and watched the trail descend sharply to Walker Lake. This suggested two things immediately: my message to Wally saying we started at the lake was inaccurate, and 2) my maps AND guidebooks were lying to me. If we're not starting at Sawmill Canyon (due to the gate), nor at Walker Lake, where exactly were we? And Larry was striding up a more appropriately-sloped (uphill) path, suggesting that it made more sense. In the confusion Larry was the most certain, so again we were off!

Ten minutes later we were WAY off: the fine-looking trail deserted us and we began bushwhacking across the slope in search of a way into Bloody Canyon, where the True Trail would presumably be found. We considered retreating, but it wasn't in our nature to give up without a struggle. So we struggled, crashing along on a slightly ascending traverse in search of a route between forest and cliff that would lead to the creek. By the end of our first hour we were exhausted, willow-whipped and thirsty, but we had worked our way across the creek and found the path patiently waiting for us. It was hardly an auspicious beginning, but after a bit of rest .. we were off!

Mono and Walker Lakes behind us

The day was fine and hot, a bit more buggy than our liking (thanks in part to some fine aspen groves, which Larry pointed out are a good indicator-species for mosquitoes), but the path kept us on our way. We passed two pretty waterfalls - well, really steep slides to be more precise, but John Muir called them waterfalls back in the 1870s and NO one argues with him! - and we reached lower Sardine Lake late in the afternoon. With our early detour draining our strength and enthusiasm, we decided that this lake would make a fine camp.. assuming we could find a site. Larry wandered a bit and came back with news of good sites at the far end, so we staggered over and set up shop. A nice place, though again a bit buggy.

Day one ended on a disturbing note: my reliable white-gas stove refused to pump. It worked only reluctantly, creating its own pressure after a few iminutes; most certainly a bad way to start a long trip! I opened the pump chamber and discovered that the rubber gasket had pinched and deformed; I put it back in its place, and it worked much better.. for one day. It was sick again on later days - the gasket looked weak where it had been pinched - but the stove worked acceptably. (One of the first stops after the trip was at a store that sold replacement Coleman pump parts.) I decided to forego the tarp and sleep under the stars (well, trees and stars) with a bug-net over my face; it worked except for the droning bugs, which drove me slightly mad and made me sit up several times swatting the air. After several swings I would overheat in my cool-weather bag, which probably attracted still more bugs. Inevitably I slept.

pre-hike - day One - Two - Three - Four - Five - Six - Seven - Summary

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