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Sierra y2k - Evolutuion Valley Tour
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Epilogue
We found a nice motel in Bishop, then sped northward to Medford the following day. We detoured into Mammoth Lakes on the way, then had a quick meal in Bridgeport. I convinced them to take the road north out of town, which would return us to US 395 at the CA/NV border. It was a beautiful route, with the East Walker River and the Sweetwater Mountains showing off along the route. The surprise of the drive was in the middle of nowhere, in sagebrush and scrub willow country: a milticolored black bear loped along the side of the road, setting a good pace as we slowed down and scrambled for cameras. Just as Larry and I got set (Julie was driving at the time), he crossed the road and crashed into the shrubbery. Of all the places to see a bear, this was among the least likely!

We had heard that Oregon was receiving some welcome rain, and as we approached Susanville the clouds appeared, looking more menacing than usual. In fact this was no storm at all, but smoke from a rapidly-growing fire in the Feather River canyon (this would still be burning when I wrote this, a week after Labor Day). The sky turned brown, the sun a shade of crimson - but in an hour we had passed through the smoke and back into the clear.

Peggy welcomed us back to Oregon even though it was after 10:30 when we reached her. Tom had taken Sara to a SF Giants game and was not home yet, so we filled Peg in on out adventures before turning in. Sunday was a tedious but straightforward drive home.


SUMMARY
This was a fun hike, a decent workout without the risks of the '99 trip. Larry and Juile are easy to get along with, and our paces are similar but not such that we march through the wilderness in lock-step. Julie's discomfort was tough to watch, and I symphatised with her camera issues (several times her camera refused to shoot, explaining with descriptive notes like 'H3' and 'H5'...). She did as well as any over Lamarck Col, though, so clearly she had the strength to fight through her cold; would I do as well under those conditions?

The fishing was great fun. I hadn't fished in several years, and my technique showed it; nevertheless, it was relaxing and somewhat productive as well. Those golden trout are amazing in their technicolor splendor! All the new gear worked fine, and I lost a bit of unneeded weight by the end of the trip.

And yet...
Something about this trip was less fun than previous outings. Part of it may have been the anticlimax that any trip would entail after the ambitious '99 trip, but I suspect that overplanning was also to blame. Much of this trip could be found in outlines for 1993-4-5-6 trips, so I had visited these places in my mind countless times. I tried not to overanalyze this one, yet our uncertainty up to the last minute kept me thinking about route variations for the middle days of the trip. (Even with all that, our final route was not on my mental map, so plenty of energy went for naught.) Our poor preparation for altitude was also unpleasant, since our long drive immediately before the trip left no time for much exertion in thin air. My disastrous final morning put me in a bad frame of mind, and the continuous irritants from leaky liquid containers was decidedly unpleasant. I also ran absurdly low on toilet paper, which made me all the more agreeable to packing out a day early. Technical difficulties such as these can turn a relaxing and scenic trip in fair weather into a trip where misfortune is anticipated around each bend in the trail.

I still can't understand how the route up Lamarck could be so easy in '99 but so complicated a year later. That was as tough a hiking day as I can remember, going from 9900 feet to 12900 to 9500 in about eleven miles and over twelve hours. I know I've done tougher days, but they have respectfully faded in my memory compared to this.


I can now cross Lamarck Col off my list of things to do, having crossed there in consecutive years. It's bizarre to think that, of all the passes available in the High Sierra, I have crossed Taboose Pass and Lamarck Col twice! I still need to work Bishop Pass into a route, which would complete the east-side entries into the Middle Fork Kings area, but with so much yet to see in the Sierra I can't imagine returning to this particular area soon.


Hike day One - Two - Three - Four - Five - Six - Summary