A couple of weekends ago, Richard Taylor and I did two day hikes in the Sierras. They were totally different from each other and each was a typical Sierra hike.
The first hike was more of an afternoon wander at 8600 feet on a soft, balmy afternoon. Really. One of those wondrous afternoons that the High Sierras serve up only a dozen days a year and only if you have been very good. The goal was the Little-Devil's Postpile, an alleged geologic wonder that Richard had visited as a teenager on a Ranger guided trip.
We started the hike at the western end of Tuolumne Meadows on a warm afternoon with the temperature in the high 70's and,
skirting Pothole Dome on our left, followed the basin for the Tuolumne
River downstream for three miles. The first part of the trip through Tuolumne Meadows was almost flat.
At the end of Tuolumne Meadows – which, when I was about 16, I was told was the world's largest alpine meadow and I now read is only the largest sub-alpine meadow in the Sierra – the Tuolumne River drops through a resistant layer in a gentle canyon.
We followed the river through almost flat layers of rock
until got to the Little-Devil's Postpile. I wandered around looking for a good shot and didn't think about getting a record picture until later. If you are really interested, there is a picture here.
By the time we left, the shadows were getting longer and the backlighting was getting more dramatic,
and we walked back up river passing quiet pools and lengthening shadows.
My quintessential memory of the Sierra high country is walking through a high meadow on the way back to camp after a full day of walking around. The air is warm and soft and civilization is a thousand miles away. The reality is that this kind of afternoon is unusual enough that each one is memorable.
And this was one of those days. As we walked – wandered – back to where we started and the car, we were looking up at Unicorn Peak and Cathedral Peak. A couple of classic "horns" that stuck up above the glaciers about a 1,000,000 years ago.
As we finished the walk, the sun was going down but it was still in the 70's. At the end, we came on a herd of deer. We counted 18 deer and all of them seemed to be bucks. I have never seen that many deer in one place, let alone that many bucks. It was a great end to a typical Sierra walk.