Vogelsang Trail, Yosemite National Park, July 23, 2018.
(This is the second part in a three part series. Read Part I Here)
I'm attracted to older, decaying, dying and dead trees. The fascination began as a youth when first seeing a leaf skeleton. Who knew leaves had bones! When I first hiked in the Sierras in my early twenties, it was the twisted remnants of the Foxtail Pines and hardy weather worn cedars that drew me. They have so much more character than their healthy younger relatives!
It was late July for this trip, which is springtime at the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevadas. At about 9,200 feet, the forest was familiar: mixed conifer with granite boulders and grasses. Occasional patches of color dotted the trail as chipmunks scurried about doing their business. The last of the humans had passed--it was about 5:00 P.M. and I still had about three miles to my first night's camp at Vogelsang.
Vogelsang Peak, Yosemite National Park, California.
"Uphill, I think," I responded to the tightly wound ranger as we searched for an alternate, less smoke-laden trail than the initial trip I planned. It was July 22, 2018, almost ten days after the Ferguson Fire ignited adjacent to Yosemite National Park.
I received my wilderness permit some three months before in early April. I'm sure it took at least a month for me to learn how to navigate the online maps enough to decide a reasonable route for my first seven day solo backpacking trip. I spent months of planning, gathering equipment and supplies, and training my body to carry 30+ pounds on my back for this trip--I wasn't going to let a regional fire stop me from this exciting journey on the most renowned segment of the John Muir Trail (JMT) from the valley floor of Yosemite to Tuolomne Meadows.