Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 70: Boulder Creek to Ebbetts Pass

Rat-a-tat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat! Tap tap tap tap tap! Rat-a-tat-a-tat-tat-tat! Tap tap tap tap tap! A pair of woodpeckers echoed each other in a percussive morning song as they drilled into neighboring trees for breakfast. Farther off, a quartet of song birds lent their voices to provide the melody for our morning song.

From the broken white granite surrounding our camp, we hiked to the dark reddish brown volcanic rock that comprises Peak 9,500. We passed swampy meadows and climbed to a saddle with large rhyolite boulders (a chalky, brittle volcanic rock) a sizable snowfield. Sierra quickly climbed to the top of the snowfield and slid down on her feet, "boot skiing" or "foot skiing," a favorite activity whenever more traditional skiing isn't available.

Dropping into Murray Canyon we passed several seasonal streams with short young corn lily plants, mule's ears, and newly budding shooting stars.  Although bound to be the site of the next mosquito hatch, for now the meadows were pleasant.  A gentle breeze swayed the tall pines, which creaked and groaned as they moved.

We stopped for lunch at a shady spot near Wolf Creek, still hoping to make it to Ebbett's Pass by late afternoon.  But as the afternoon wore on, Sierra's pace slowed to a crawl, as she struggled to push on despite significant foot pain.  Watching her use her hiking poles as makeshift crutches, hobbling along on feet I knew were angry, swollen, red, and infected, I knew we could not wait for South Lake Tahoe for our zero days.  We would have to exit at Ebbett's Pass to seek medical attention.

Thankfully, a few miles before we reached the pass, we spotted a lone figure trudging up the hill toward us:  my father.  As Sierra slowly limped toward his truck, we tried to distract ourselves from our concern with the beautiful scenery.  Steep volcanic cliffs riddled with small black caves glowed a golden reddish tone in the fading light.  Tall pines rose up next to the trail.  Flowering mule's ears with cheerful yellow flowers, pale lavender Sierra daisies, red paintbrush, and a few brightly colored red and yellow columbines were among the many wildflowers growing next to the trail.  Fresh corn lilies thrived next to the many seasonal streams.

We reached my father's truck just before dark.  Although sad to be going to town early, we know Sierra's feet needed medical attention and rest.  We hope to be back on the trail at Ebbett's Pass in a few days, heading north to Canada.

No comments:

Post a Comment