I didn’t see Weaver Lake…but then again, I didn’t die trying

I didn’t sleep that well last night because I was anxious. Weaver Lake or no?  The app AllTrails recommends it. That’s one. A few other things counseled prudence, which is one of my main virtues! Or cowardice, but I prefer prudence.  The Sequoia National Park website, exempli gratia, tells me to stay away from water:

Don’t go near the water…

Two people in the last week died, drowned. In safe seeming situation. Jon, my Sequoia archivist, told me they were warned: even if it looks safe, it isn’t. Rocks are slippery. The current is cold fast relentless.  Don’t go near the water.  Last night Jon and I looked at the map:

Sequoia Map

The red line that runs a rather drunken NS is the main road. Follow it north until there is another road to the East (right) called Big Meadow.  Four miles along that road is where the trail to Weaver Lake starts.  It’s in the Jennie Lake Wilderness. Wilderness. You know, in my head last night, lions and tigers and bears, oh my.  Plus Jon, he who blithely scaled the walls of a Venetian fort that was absolutely closed, he who almost fell off the side of a cliff in Turkey, he who glories in living on the edge, that Jon, was clearly not excited about the idea.  Above the snow line. May be closed. May not be safe.  The guy at the visitors center (who should definitely not be working in a visitors center) cautioned against it.  ‘Oh yeah no, go further up to this easy trail.’

So, don’t go: my anxious non-sleeping says so, Jon says so, the guy at the visitors center.  The only thing to do is ask someone else.   At Lodgepole I asked a much nicer young woman who  said the road was closed. Then she checked and said it wasn’t.  So, of course, I went.  Found Big Meadow Road, found the “trailhead”

You would think this means “this is the trailhead”. Ha

Finding the actual trail head is easy once you know where it is.  I parked. Two guys from U. Washington (Mechanical Engineers. Rising Juniors.  God, am I nosey) pulled in next to me.  They were hiking to Jennie Lake to spend tonight and to Weaver Lake tomorrow. They did not know where the trail head was, exactly.   But they said I reminded them of Travels with Charlie. I assured them that I am not half the writer Steinbeck was, but then again, I’m also not half the jerk he sometimes seems in that book.  They couldn’t believe I drove from NC.  it was very adorable.

Then there was the guy from, I think, New Zealand. He was not adorable. He asked us where the trail head was.  No idea. He went away, came back and pointed authoritatively.  I walked. It was not there.  They found it. I found it.  I tried to keep a respectful distance.  His wife (girlfriend?) was lagging behind. He did not wait.  I passed them as they were taking a rest.  They reappear later. But this was where they stopped:

I’m running out of captions for spectacular views

We soon hit snow, obscuring the trail.  One of us was happy about this:

Oh man SNOW
I’m staying here

We hit a trail sign, pointing left.

one of a very few trail signs…this one says basically: yes you do have to cross the stream

Left was a stream of running water. Was it the kind of water one could die in?  I didn’t think so, but see above on the warning from the parks service and Jon.  We crossed.  I aged.

More snow and then a clear, gorgeous trail

Please can you take off the leash?
Wilderness trail

Through a meadow of flowers that look prettier than they photographed, so I will spare you.  Suddenly the trail was gone. Well there was a trail, but it had become a running stream.  Hard to cross. While I was debating what to do, a whole pack of woodland Hermes came across the stream.  They were actually more like a pack of St. Christophers, from a Christian camp–maybe five boys of high school age and their guide, from Orange County (see above on nosey).  While I was struggling to figure out how to cross, New Zealand and his lady came, crossed (he crossed, she struggled) and left.

Guide: Can I help you get across?

Me: Thanks, that’s so nice, but how am I going to get back? They (head nod toward the departing couple) aren’t going to help me.

Guide says nothing. He and two other guys lift a really big rock (I wish he had done it on his own, so I could make him Homeric, the kind of rock it takes ten men today to lift). The carefully position this rock, big enough that the water won’t wash over it, so that on my return crossing I have nothing to worry about.  Allow me to prove I am not making this up:

Who says Chivalry is dead?
The Saints, testing the rock

I promised to get them all into Davidson.  They were so nice.  The trail got harder to follow,but was still amazing.  And then it stopped.  Water cascaded down the slopes, full of rocks and  debris, but no trail. New Zealand and company (who had again stopped and I had again passed them, feeling very much tortoise and hare) went off up the rocks. “Are you sure that is where the trail is” says I. They looked at me and kept going. Clearly I was interrupting their sylvan holiday.  Another couple came along and we slogged through the water and rocks and there was indeed a bit of a trail further on.  They were sauntering. I was marching with purpose, lest I totally bag the whole thing.  Trail again. Snow again, trail again.  And then, damn it. Water. Lots of water. Fast water.  The saunterers had caught up with me and invited me to follow. But they were camping. How the heck would I get down? The water was down a slope of snow. On the other side the trail emerged, clear, and clearly covered with snow, ascending. In the distance, snow.

I wished them a good hike (“But we are not very far”) and turned around, prudently cowardly. And then down the rock, debris, water and across it.  Suddenly, a dog. Off leash, and then another.  And one totally happy Calliope, running circles in the snow through the water.  Three people from Fresno, who invited me to come along, seeing that the dogs were madly in love with each other. But by that time, I was done.  I really wanted to see the lake (“loveliest place in the Sierras” said one review on AllTrails).  And yet…So far a couple of hours all uphill.  Uneven terrain. Bad knees. Back hurting. I was done.

We turned back and had a mini picnic (string cheese for Calli, Kind bar for me, water for both) here:

PIcnic spot
Yes, the same place Zealand had stopped, more or less

We got to the bridge pretty near the start of the trail, and I made Calli pose

We made it

I left a note on the windshield of the engineers, telling them I didn’t make the lake but did make it out. Then we started our long, slow, DOWNWARD, way out of the park, stopping for some spectacular sights:

Big Trees
Really Big Trees
Shooting into the sun, but still
This is the definition of breathtaking

I got to the park at 8:30, drove out around 5.  There are more  photos.  Lots more. But…since I’m going back tomorrow, maybe to that easy trail ….

Mastering the learning curve: Nashville to Little Rock

If yesterday I was too focused  on ‘getting there’, today I was maybe not focused enough.  But I had a blast all morning and paid for it this afternoon.  Took Calli again to the same dog park (and got lost going back to the hotel). After breakfast and loading the car, we drove into Nashville to see the replica of the Parthenon in Centennial Park (built in 1897 for the Centennial exhibition).  Centennial Park is great: easy parking, beautiful grounds–just lovely.

Pond at Centennial Park

The Parthenon is a hoot.

The view of the Parthenon across the pond in Centennial Park

Calliope did an excellent job of guarding Athena’s treasury in the opsithodomos

Guarding the opisthodomos

She also makes a great sphinx

The Parthenon Sphinx

She also gets a patience award…

I had picked out a hike outside of Nashville and on the way to Little  Rock. It was just off I-40 and looked great. But there were signs all over warning about theft and I asked an older couple who were just leaving. The guy had been a defensive arts instructor and went on at length about how dangerous it was and people come off the highway looking for opportunities. Meanwhile there have to be 6 cars there. I decided to take a risk for once. It was pretty hot. But a great little hike:

The trail at Hidden Lake


I managed, even with the AllTrails app, to go a bit astray, but am not sure how. The hidden lake was worth it

Hidden Lake Tennessee

But then I paid for my full morning– five and a half hours in the car, and I was a bit over heated and ate almonds and a Kind bar for lunch while driving.  I did stop for water and dog walks at rest stops, but the rest stops  are not great.  Maybe also listening to “Sicily: Three Thousand Years of Human History” is not the best choice for a long drive.  Sometimes I turn it off and just drive.  Calli was a trooper.  We hit Little Rock in time for traffic. But the La Quinta here is in a new part of Little Rock, sort of outskirts…very new (the opposite of yesterday) and nice.  And we are very tired…

Ready, sort of

I was berating myself for over packing until I realized I’m bringing the same suitcase for six weeks that I used for one week a couple of months ago in Athens.  I’m mostly packed. Starting from:

Clean slate ready to be packed

Making sure I had enough of Sal Suds in my oh-so-old-but-still-good-never-leaks Platypus.  Feels like the Classics Semester Abroad in a bottle.

I’ve taken this stuff all around the world. Washes everything. And the platypus doesn’t leak and rolls up as it empties.

Although I won’t see Anna and Tommy Barbee at the Farmers Market for quite a while, I’m taking a bit of Barbee Farms with me–a strawberry bucket to hold front seat “essentials”: Altoids, tissues, hand wipes, SPF in every form imaginable:


Strawberry bucket from Barbee Farms
SPF, Altoids, all kinds of stuff I probably don’t really need…


Dog food, people food, single use ice packs (a lot of them!), Calli’s “suitcase” and mine

And finally: the car is packed.

I know this seems to be a lot of “stuff” … but there are TWO CASES of those ice packs that you squeeze in the middle, releasing heaven knows what that makes them cold for 20 minutes: enough of them to ice my back at will.  The Subaru is very comfortable, even for long rides, but this is a long ride.  I also have a box of “you have to bring this on a road trip”: everything from an extra quart of oil (plus funnel), “fix a flat”, and jumper cables to duct tape (even though I’ll immediately call AAA).

Dog food. People food (I took about half out since last post!).  Dog treats. People treats. Some albums for Jon from his room.  The Impreza’s trunk is small so I’m pretty pleased.

Ann and Helen, most of this will be gone before I get to Rochester! There will be room for your (very small) bags!

Now to try to cull some of the books in the pile…

Next stop: Nashville.


Road Food

After driving and hiking each day, I want to chill and read, not look for a dog-friendly restaurant (that’s what lunch is for).  So I’m bringing a kitchen, of sorts: collapsible water boiler, Summit thermos for “cooking” and my ancient soup mug with a cover (morning yogurt, evening meal).

Kitchen Equipment

I might be over-prepared….

Coffee, granola, peanut butter
Lentils, couscous, miso, ramen, spices, more granola

And of course, rounding out the nutritional necessities, bourbon and kind bars (thanks Annie and Amy!)