Thursday, September 23, 2004
The snow came down last night, and I was warm and secure inside. I had
frost inside my tent ceiling. Not much snow was piled up around the tent
in the morning, but I definitely left a footprint. The trail continued
climbing a bit in the forest, then began to level out. In a high meadow,
I saw an amazing color: fresh, white snow on dry, golden grass. It was a
light tan and deeply appealing.
I then came across a cabin. I think it was maintained by backcountry
skiers. Of course no smoke came out of the chimney, and it was locked.
The trail register, kept by the same group that ran the cabin promised to
provide use detail to the US Forest Service. They wanted justification
for funding. Apple Pie & Spur had signed the book at 2PM yesterday. I
signed at 10AM. I lingered a bit at the cabin then set out. I soon reached
the junction to Devil's Thumb. The sign did not indicate if it led to the
mountain or the pass, but it was in the right place, so I took it. I
could see Spur and Apple Pie's prints, which also confirmed the trail.
Then I saw something I didn't expect to see. Spur's footprints heading
out. I walked on, thinking I'd seen the wrong thing. But as the day
progressed, there could be no mistake. Had something happened to Apple
Pie? What would I find up there?
Those questions were quashed with one footstep, Apple Pie's, also heading
down from the pass. What could have happened? My first guess was that
they'd gotten a bit more weather than I had last night. I supposed that
they must have camped up there, then retreated in the morning because
their outbound tracks looked so fresh.
What did that mean for me? I knew that I couldn't back out based on
footprints. I didn't think that I was tougher than them, but I thought I
might have better circumstances.
As I climbed, the snow grew deeper. As I approached the pass, now 2,000'
above where I slept, I began to sense the conditions that drove Spur and
Apple Pie back down. I took some amazing photos.