the Plan: as far as possible on the Taboose Pass trail
We left my wife's Escort at North Lake and took Scott's truck to the Taboose trailhead. Several changes had taken place since we last visited ten years before. The road had fared badly in the '90s - we drove a VW Rabbit in 89 but found the road challenging in Scott's small pickup this time. The good news came an hour or so into the hike, where we found a rest-stop carved into the streamside willows. Our previous trip had been a very thirsty one, and the willows had not allowed access to Taboose Creek; now water and shade were available, and very welcome! Two hikers from Virginia were also there, looking for a ride out; we told them of their bleak prospects at this relatively desolate road-end, wished them well, and continued back into the hot sun. We passed the Tree Bench (this route passes five benches - cliffs, really - each with a reasonably prominent landmark), then the Waterfall Bench late in the day. We found a couple above there setting up camp, and they indicated other sites nearby. This was very near our 1989 camp, and we settled in for the night. This couple was also planning to cross Cartridge Pass, and their hints for that and for Lamarck Col were welcome. A cloud briefly dropped some drips on us, but it relented before we became worried about it.
For unclear reasons, the Wilderness Reservation Service seemed rather insistent that we cross the pass for our first night. This was puzzling, and downright mean to full-pack folks who would feel the effects of such a climb for days to come. Our camp-mates heard no such advice from the rangers when they grabbed the last day-of-hike permits, so it clearly was not as big a deal as we feared.