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:
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:
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”
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:
We soon hit snow, obscuring the trail. One of us was happy about this:
We hit a trail sign, pointing left.
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
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:
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:
We got to the bridge pretty near the start of the trail, and I made Calli pose
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:
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 ….