Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 50: Cow Creek to Ridge Above Death Canyon

We climbed out of the tree cover into more open terrain covered with granite boulders, sage, shrubs, and wildflowers. A small brook gurgled its way through the clearing, an outline of mule's ears marking its path. A lone yellow-bellied marmot scampered across the trail and hid from view.

Continuing up the trail I heard the low "humph, humph, humph" of a male grouse. Although out of sight I could picture his familiar dance, the male grouse fanning his colorful plumage and strutting his stuff, hoping to attract a mate.

I trailed Sierra most of the way up the climb, having stopped to talk to other hikers and to take pictures. Reaching a false saddle I looked to see if Sierra was waiting with the group of hikers resting there. She was not. "A pink blur passed here a few minutes ago!" one of the hikers quipped. I finally caught her right before the saddle, where we stopped to enjoy views of Domeland, Mount Langley, and several other peaks.

Continuing through the woods we reached Gomez Meadow, a beautiful, expanse of slightly swampy, lush, green grass. Tall lodgepole pines lined one side of the meadow. Craggy granite outcroppings rose up on the other side.

Stepping across a small stream, we began the long climb up craggy, boulder-strewn Death Canyon. Everywhere we looked were rough granite boulders, gnarled old junipers, and foxtail pines with bushy, tail-like branches so thick you wanted to reach out and pet the fur.

Halfway up the climb, I looked ahead up the trail to find Sierra on top of a large granite boulder. "Somehow I don't think that's where the trail goes..." I remarked. Sierra grinned, then asked to take off her pack to climb an even larger granite rock outcropping with an incredible view of the meadow and surrounding mountains.

After reaching the top, we continued to follow the ridge. Eventually we made camp in a tall stand of foxtail pines on a soft, sandy saddle.

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