We’re not even halfway into September but with all that I’ve been trying to squeeze into this last month of summer and all the planning that’s going into preparing for the fall season, well, it feels like I’m fully in the grip of the month.
Two weekends ago found me sitting in a hot spring outside of Mammoth Lakes sipping on a Gonzo Imperial Porter and staring into the nearly-full moon. It’d been a long time since I’d had a Flying Dog beer and it definitely brought back some Texas memories.
That week I was fortunate enough to spend some time with some friends escaping the Valley for a high country weekend. I’ve missed my Ranger Club girls! We had a pellet stove pizza party and late night campfire. It was so great to see Crystal pull out her mandolin and join in the music. And then I went on a double date with Craig and Jed & Kirsten (which we found out was a great novelty in Tuolumne). We had a dinner out and watched the moonrise over Mono Lake. And then I had a movie night with a few of my Tuolumne girls – Logan, Salli, and Jean. Craig joined us for dinner and then decided that, in lieu of watching Priscilla Queen of the Desert with us, he’d go to the campfire. Can’t say that I blamed him for not wanting to watch a movie about men in (fabulous) drag… but it did keep us up pretty late because the campfire was still calling when I left to go home and we ended up staying up ridiculously late enjoying the night. Only to come home to the third power outage in three days. Did I mention how primitive Tuolumne can be? The first outage was Monday morning when a transformer blew somewhere down the Lee Vining Canyon and it was 3 hours before they could get a backup generator going. That one might’ve been the most fun because the power went out right as we were all getting ready for work and most of us couldn’t make coffee and so we went the campground’s ‘Coffee with a Ranger’ program. Pretty sure rangers outnumbered the campers at that one… And then the second outage was the next morning when the backup generator blew and it took 5 hours to get us going again. We found out later that the third outage was actually a scheduled one – who knew Edison Electric decided midnight to 2AM was the least impactful time to work on the lines? Good to test and reconfirm that I’m really not that dependent on electricity when it comes down to it (I’m sure it factors in that I live somewhere that’s cold enough that my ice cream doesn’t melt when the power’s out in the heat of the day.).
Anyway, that last power outage and a plethora of other events and nonevents contributed to the very late start we got on our backpacking last weekend. 4:30 is awfully late to start at a trailhead heading out into the backcountry. But we only planned to hike 6 miles, so it worked out that we had plenty of time for the hike from Tioga Road over Parker Pass into the Ansel Adams Wilderness (in the Inyo National Forest) and to set up camp near some gorgeous tarns (bodies of water similar to ponds) by sunset. And then we hiked back up to Parker Pass the next morning and over to Parker Pass Lake (where we got hailed on) and made out way over to Kuna Lake via Spillway Lake. I definitely got my cross-country (no trail) hiking fix for a while and got to test out my new Gregory pack (which was awesome).
This past week we’ve kept consciously rather quiet. Well, relatively. Work is never quiet, even when it’s slow. I have great (and crazy) coworkers. :) But our evenings have been rather uneventful. Get home from work, eat a snack, hike up Puppy Dome to watch sunset (sometimes alone and sometimes with a crew of locals), make dinner, read or drool over maps or sit around chatting by the warm pellet stove, and a generally late bedtime considering how early I like to try to get up for work. And Craig and I have been preoccupied with planning this weekend’s birthday backpacking trip.
We leave this afternoon on a two-night trip in celebration of Craig’s birthday. We’re planning to start at Saddlebag Lake (just outside the park) and hike in over Secret Pass to Upper McCabe Lake (finally get a view of that lake we looked at a poster of all winter in the Valley VC) and then down to Roosevelt Lake and over to some tarns that are supposed to be home to yellow-legged frogs and then down to Young Lakes and out past Dog Lake to the Meadows. Not sure on the mileage, but I’m sure it’ll be intense. Which means the stop at Tioga Pass Resort for birthday dessert (carrot cake, anyone?) on the way back to pick up the car Thursday night with be just the way to end the weekend.
And then we’re drawing up on the end of September and the end of the Tuolumne season. Just one more high country weekend left. I’ll be doing some solo day hiking (right now I’m thinking I’ll scramble up Mt. Dana and maybe Gibbs too) and going to the end-of-season dinner. And then I’m thinking I’ll take Craig over to the May Lake area to a few of the beautiful and secret places I discovered last season (with much thanks to one of the crew of the High Sierra Camp out there). Then it’ll really be the end. The Visitor Center and Campground close for the season on 9/25. It’ll take a day or two to winterize and lock everything up and check out of housing. Then it’s up to Lake Tahoe to visit with my Texas friend, Brian, who’s going to be in town for a wedding and hopefully get some hiking in up there before heading down to the west side of the park to move into my new housing in El Portal and start work for the fall/winter season.
Speaking of work, I don’t have much official I can say right now. But it’s looking like I’m going to have the opportunity to work at various locations across the park this fall (which I’m really excited about and I’m not even dreading the driving that would be involved except for the possibility of having to put on tire chains for driving in snowstorms) and I’m already training to be the supervisor for the bookstore up here next summer. And after that? Well, we’ll see how it goes as the time progresses but the Conservancy is definitely giving me room to grow with the company and I’m loving the continued opportunity to live and work and play in Yosemite.
So there’s my September. A month of backpacking and work and dropping temperatures (when did the river get SO cold?) and transition.