Always seeking new adventures in my familiar playground, I often tag along with Ranger Lou, who seems to have hiked every inch of the Western Supes. Figure 4 days of hiking per week during the season times 11 years and you know where to find every cave, mine and oddity out there. But, once in a while, I get the chance to show him someplace he's never been. Today, it was the Crosscut Trail.
Having already done this one twice without incident, this would be a piece of cake for me and a great chance to show off a little. Well, that's what I thought, anyway. The turn-off from the Terrapin is right after a bend in the trail shortly after you start hiking along the water and there's a big cairn marking it. There are actually two bends quite similar looking and not too far apart, but I never paid attention to the first one before since I was always keeping an eye out for the giant cairn (after the second bend)
. Well, some pumpkinhead built a huge cairn at the first bend, so naturally I stopped, but I couldn't see anything that looked like a trail. We spent the next hour looking for the trail, not finding anything, climbing up then back down the hill anyway because I insisted that's where we needed to go and then finally giving up deciding to keep going on the Terrapin all the way to the Dutchman and back on Peralta instead.
Feeling disappointed (and stupid)
, I wondered if I was losing my mind, since I had just been there in November. But, we only went another 5 minutes on the Terrapin before we saw the real cairn and went up, both
of us relieved that I was not, in fact, crazy. A little flaky... maybe. Happily, he liked the Crosscut Trail enough that it was worth the extra effort caused by my earlier confusion. Since we didn't go back to take it down, that impostor cairn is still there, so be advised if you're going out that way and please feel free to kick it over!
Before we reached Fremont Saddle, we turned off for a side trip to Lone Pine. I hadn't been up there before so I got to see some new real estate, too. A very pretty spot, but unfortunately, it's not hard enough to get there that the effort weeds out the idiots. A few of the lower branches of the pine have been cut off (probably for firewood)
, some pumpkinhead carved his name in the trunk, there's graffiti on one of the rocks and the metal box (sort of a moronic child version of a summit register)
was filled with all kinds of trash and notes with stupid comments like you'd expect in a public restroom stall. I wanted to wash my hands after touching it. Truly sad.
We went right down the Cave Trail from there and about halfway to the cave, we caught up to a couple of 20 'somethings' ... she - very heavyset and carrying only a purse, him - carrying only a plastic bag and both wearing regular street clothes. Before we passed them, we asked the usual questions:
Lou: "Have you been here before?"
She: "No, but we have a really good book." (No doubt, Jack Carlson's latest, which is likely to keep SSAR busy for years to come)
Me: "Do you have any water?" (It was pretty warm up there)
She: "He has some gatorade in the bag."
Apparently, he does not speak, but she seems completely confident in this hike. We believe they are in for a surprise up ahead, but we keep going, not expecting to see them again.
We had gained a lot of distance on them before getting down the Devil's Slide, but shortly after that we paused to look back and they were already at the top surveying the unfriendly landscape. We didn't believe they were even going to attempt this so we moved on. But, before we went over the ridge, I took one last look behind us to discover that they were DOWN! What?!
I never saw that one coming. Boy, some people really surprise you.
Me: "Well, that's a little humiliating."
Lou: "Damn kids."
Experience, skill, fitness and proper gear are all very nice, but when it comes right down to it, I guess nothing trumps youth.
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