|We had our campfire alone this year, with no friends.
This year, one of the few unmovable holidays fell on Thursday. We planned to see
fireworks in Bridgeport again, and when we failed to entice any friendly
families, we set out for the mountains on Wednesday without them. Much snow
still lied around, and water was everywhere too. It did not just snow a lot,
but some of it kept falling even in June, and thanks to colder weather it all
melted slowly and gradually. Our usual favorite campsite evoked a picture of a
medieval castle (surrounded by a moat — filled rather with mud instead of
water — and full of mosquitoes), thus we had to divert uphill to stay dry
and not be eaten alive. We roasted some sausages, and then Lisa has
ceremonially, to open the summer break, burned an old math notebook
It was her notebook from sixth grade, still from the brick-and-mortar school,
where her math teacher was a complete ass.
Lisa had not been the only kid who shed tears over her math, and we were
certainly not the only parents who complained about the individual —
regardless of how the principal tried to spin it (that no-one else was
complaining, and that the teacher was an extremely nice person — by the
way, this very nice person had been allegedly suspended this year for student
abuse). Well, Lisa had apparently received from this kind man many a trauma,
since it was worth to her, two years after she got rid of him, finding an old
notebook, pack it along on a camping trip, and then burn it ritually.
I hope that by this, we had closed the whole sorry chapter of brick-and-mortar
schooling, and we are moving on to brighter tomorrows.
After the solemn cremation, darkness and cold had soon
forced us into our sleeping bags. Temperature was supposed to drop down to
freezing overnight, but I think it wasn't as bad.
|How can you tell summer break is here? Daughter burns her math notebook.
|It's a steep climb up to Gardisky Lake.
On Thursday morning we had slept in. Yes, even I lasted in my sleeping back till
half past eight; kids and Hippo lasted naturally much longer. But the purpose of
vacation is to indulge in things that are normally not possible. We turned down
an idea to take part in a day-long celebrations in Bridgeport — and
instead into noisy crowds we headed deeper into the mountains — having
reckoned that Virginia Lakes were still under snow, while Lundy would be
flooded, we knew that Pavel had skied Saddlebag on preceding weekend.
And we were also ready for a change of scenery — so we picked
on the boundary of Yosemite Park, near Saddlebag Lake,
and kept Gaylor Lake as a backup.
|Tom was the only one not wheezing, and still having enough energy to run around and be silly.
|A view across a nameless pond towards northern slopes of White Mountain.
I must say that had we not picked the location by online guides and photographs,
we would not get lured to try it — a dusty parking space and a steeply
sloping trail in a nondescript grove. A trailhead starts at nine thousand feet,
which causes in us, ocean-level dwelling creatures, considerable shortness of
breath. We managed to scramble up the mere six hundred feet only with much
wheezing — the only one among us who was not wheezing, was Tom, who's
neither old nor fat nor asthmatic enough. The ascent had paid off, for we found
ourselves in a shallow basin with a deep blue lake and snow-melt ponds.
The area contained a pleasant number of tourists — a lonely fisherman
quivered on the lakeshore, and we occasionally glimpsed two other families
— but only from a distance. Apparently, as this attraction exists
outside the national park proper, no-one comes here to shout and make racket.
Naturally our way back down was more challenging than our way up. We had only
wheezed and grunted going up, but coming down we slid and cursed, and hoped that
our old knees would not buckle under us.
|Looking to the south, more or less from the same spot, across Gardisky Lake and spring greenery.
|The pool was incredibly warm.
Just for the kick of it, we crossed the park boundary to check out our second
option — Gaylor Lake — but that trail included snow banks across it,
apparently we would have had a harder time than at Gardisky. So we only spilled
out on the meadow to admire a classic Yosemite scenery across a small lake onto
snow-capped mountains, and then we headed back to Nellie's Deli for an early
dinner. After a meal we still had time to check out Mono Lake and play cards in
our favorite park on the northern shore, before it was time to transport
ourselves to Bridgeport with its fireworks
I'm not sure if more people had come this year, or whether local cops had
handled traffic less smoothly, but it took longer than usual after the fireworks
were over, to get disentangled from the local jam in the small town, and we
reached our tents by eleven.
In the morning I was getting up at seven thirty just to make a coffee and
breakfast, and an hour later Sid dropped me off at the pack station, where I
had imposed myself for a trip to the waterfalls. I wanted to say hi to Ned, but
he was merrily chasing his buddies on a pasture, and when he came closer to
the railing momentarily and let me scratch his nose, he viewed me with suspicion
— perhaps he was worried I would want to ride him. I tried to call
alternatively all other family members, but no one would pick up the phone, and
thus I had no other choice than to ride in my worn leather moccasins.
It may not have been a bad thing — despite the wranglers' assurances that
water in the ford was only up to the stirrups, I emerged with wet feet —
which in moccasins is less of a problem than in ankle-high riding boots.
|Coming down was harder than going up.
I must say that this ride was a relatively heavy blow to my self-confidence.
I was issued a new horse, Roscoe
— one of ten "rented
out" for the season from Idaho, and I did not throughout the ride manage
to "talk it out" with him. It started with a rodeo on departure
— Roscoe refused to leave the corral, jumped and ran all over the place,
just not with the other horses. Eventually one of the wrangler had to shamefully
lead us on a rope and kick us out of the gate. I was rather worried that Roscoe
would decide to hurry back and so I paid a lot of attention in critical moments
— when entering a ford, where one waits and hesitates; when our guide
Brandon decided to return from the point position back to the rear with a bug
spray for tourists; when we were passing a short-cut back to the ranch. Then
I underestimated a moment when horses behind us had stopped and riders were
dealing with something — Roscoe figured they stopped for we would go back
home, and caused another rodeo, unpleasant by its taking place on a narrow woods
trail. Fortunately our rear guide kept her wherewithal and turned her horse
across the path, thus blocking our way home, but since then Roscoe could not
abandon the idea of turning back, and we had to get shamefully rescued by
Brandon, who led my horse on a rope back into the line. Roscoe is apparently
one of those horses who don't think much, and let every moment affect them.
|Fireworks in Bridgeport.
I like the ride to the waterfalls
because just before reaching the
final attraction, one has to dismount and walk the remaining six hundred feet
— legs get stretched from sitting in the saddle. Alas, Roscoe made another
scene, wrapping himself around a tree to which he was tied. What could have led
him to walk around the tree until his mouth would scrape the bark, and why was
he unable or unwilling to back out of it to achieve more comfort, I have no
idea. Horses are, unlike donkeys and mules, relatively "un-clever"
— when they find themselves in a perceived trap, they are able to tear
they own leg off, or even head, just to get out, instead of waiting for help.
Roscoe was jerking his head, bruising on the tree, while still insisting on
moving forward, which he could not, being in this phase at the end of his
(short) lead. So we had to rescue my horse from a trap of his own making.
A crazy horse — in a way, I feel sorry for him; as his colleagues from
Idaho looked relaxed, only he could not step out of the circle of his own
discontent, or think of something else. All the while he was otherwise
skillful, being able to find his own way through a mess of rocks in the steep
sections, unfazed by high water in the river, not scared when passing through
a swamp; he did not stumble or slide, simply ideal mountain horse. Only, through
all four hours of this ride, the horse would not talk to me, and when I offered
him an apple at the end, he turned his head away, offended. His loss —
there were other horses eager to take care of the treat, so they got his apple.
|It's harder than it seems to catch the calf.
|Northern Mono Lake.
The rest of the family took part (naturally as spectators) in a real
in Bridgeport. They were lucky, for they came just right to see
bronco rides, and so they enjoyed the most interesting part. Lisa would have
lasted longer, but Sid and Tom were boiled like lobsters from the sun, and I
needed picking up at the pack station. We returned to our campsite to pack
everything again, and continued our tradition — calling at Mountain View
Barbecue in Walker. We had a late lunch, beer (adults), ice cream (kids), and
just to be sure, took highway 88 back home. We did not want to risk holiday
traffic over Yosemite or Sonora — herds of mobile homes migrated
everywhere, along with flocks of bikers, which is a serious drag on narrow
mountain roads. 88 is really wider and faster. Still, it was half past nine
when we got back home. Sid worked on Saturday to compensate for Friday, kids and
I tried to rest and sleep — for Sunday held another round of vaulting.