Monday, November 17, 2014

Hunter Mountain - November 2014 - Part Three

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The night before we explored Corridor Canyon, Mom Spider asked if she could read our guides and notes when they retired to their camper for the evening. The next morning I was busy inside our camper washing dishes. I heard the girls talking outside and Mom Spider mentioned she was interested in visiting an area she had read about in the notes. "I've really wanted to go there too!" the Lady replied.
I offered from inside our open window, "Then why don't we go there tomorrow? In the big picture, it's in the area." They were happy, so was I. I wanted to visit there also. I did not know many details, just one of those little tidbits. Someone had said, "It's where the bighorns go."

It was a bit of a drive from Corridor's trailhead and we were racing daylight to find a campsite before dark. This was compounded when we found the road much rougher than expected with rock steps that required 4x4 low and careful spotting. But I knew we'd be alone as I had set a few track traps when we first entered the area. It is a habit and an easy way to determine if anyone else is out and about. No one had been on this road in the last two days.

We finished leveling up the Spider's rig just as it was officially dark. Much more into cooking then us, the Spiders had brought along elk steaks and a portable gas barbeque and offered to share. We sautéed veggies to complete the meal and we ate by headlamps. Afterwards we sat in the night and marveled at the stars above and the wonderful adventure we were sharing.

The Lady and I walked with our mugs of Peets coffee well before sunrise the next morning. It is a special time for us to watch new light hit the land.

We headed cross country. It would be a couple miles before we reached a distant canyon, our objective.

The rock was interesting with eroded alcoves and towers above.

We found the canyon. It narrowed immediately and a polished chute dropped into a grotto.

This was just as described. What would we find? What did the reference to bighorns mean? What we found was one of the most remarkable sheep petroglyph panels we have seen in the park.

There were other interesting glyphs.

Even more impressive was the raw beauty of this place.

I loved this faint petroglyph of two sheep climbing high ledges.

Barking Spider spotted this high alcove and was studying the wall for a possible climbing route up.

"There's nothing in there." The Lady's voice was high on the opposite wall where she had climbed to get a view in. "There's only dirt." Barking climbed up and joined her. He wanted it to hold undiscovered treasure.

It was time to head back to our trucks. Barking Spider was out ahead. "This is cool!" we heard him say and then he dropped to his knees. Barking had discovered a fellow arachnid.

"What are you doing Barking?" I asked. "Are you trying to teach him to bark?"

We continued on to camp.

For our last night we wanted to be high on Hunter Mountain.

And, a place with a view is always nice. In the morning we enjoyed first light on the classic High Sierra from Langley to Whitney.

And, this morning was my birthday meaning, of course, the Lady did something she had never done before in her life - woke up in bed with a sixty-two year old man.

Sixty-two is a special age, I was eligible for my geezer card! After packing up, the first order of business was stopping at the Inter-agency Visitor Center in Lone Pine to purchase mine.

I walked up to the counter. This was it. I was ready. A representative of the USFS was there, also the NPS and BLM.
"Today is my birthday and I would like to get my geezer card!" I announced.
The young man looked up. "I'm sorry sir, we don't have those here," he said.
"What?" I asked. Could the planets be this much out of alignment?
"I'm sorry sir, we don't have them," he repeated.
I was shaking. The Lady stepped up beside me. The young man's eyes moved quickly back and forth between us.
"You could maybe get one at the Mono Visitor Center," he offered. He was trying to help.
"They are probably closed today," the Lady said.
"Let me call," the young man quickly grabbed the phone and made several calls.
"They are closed as are all the USFS offices up 395."
"We figured that was the case," I said. "That's why we stopped here."
His eyes continued to dart between us. It came to him. "You can get one at the Tioga Pass entry station into Yosemite!" His eyes sparkled.
"120 is closed," I stated.
"No," he said, "It just reopened!"
The Lady and I stood outside and pondered the situation. I was grumpy.
"Let's go up to Tioga and get your geezer card!" the Lady said as she held my arm. "That will be really special!"
She won me over. We said goodbye to the Spiders and we were on our way up 395. We were on our quest.

A cold wind was blowing as the Lady piloted our rig up the grade. She pulled over at the empty Tioga Lodge so I could get in the driver's seat. We were ready! The moment had arrived! We were the only vehicle on the road as we approached.

I pulled up to the window and hit the button. The window lowered just as the bearded young man in the NPS campaign hat slid his window open. A young woman stood beside him.
"Welcome to Yosemite," he politely said.
I took a deep breath. "Today is my sixty second birthday and I want to get my geezer card!" I hoped my smile was infectious.
He replied, "I'm sorry sir, it is a holiday. We are not collecting any fees and therefore we cannot do any transactions."
I stared in disbelief and stuttered, "Not even for my birthday? It's all I wanted for my birthday."
"I'm sorry sir," he repeated.
The young woman squeezed past him and smiled and said, "I'm sorry too but I'd sure like to shake your hand for your birthday," and reached out the window. She was kind to the geezer.

We turned around the entry station and retreated back down Lee Vining Canyon.

The Lady did her best to cheer me up on the remainder of our trip home. We stopped for an early dinner at the Cutthroat Saloon inside the Wolf Creek Inn in Markleville. The Lady mentioned it was my birthday. Glasses were instantly raised and a unified "Happy Birthday!" rang out.
"What did you get for your birthday?" someone asked.
"Can I tell them the story?" I asked the Lady.
She nodded and I launched into the tale. Glasses were again raised as we left - the burgers were great by the way - and "Here's to getting your geezer card!" echoed into the street.
"Someday," I muttered. "Someday."

It had been another great trip and getting that geezer card has become a quest. Now we have to figure out where that extra special place to get it will be......................................


  1. Great report! It seems like a stretch to call someone who canyoneers with climbing equipment a "geezer," but congratulations on joining the Lifetime Pass club. May you use the pass for many more years!

  2. Another wonderful hike. Thanks. Too bad you couldn't get your card this trip, but that's what you get for getting born on a holiday ;-)