Emigrant Wilderness

My first trip to Emigrant was about a year ago. It was a good time (and a great timelapse, thanks to our certified National Geographic photographer), but as a large group heavy on amorous nascent couples we … did not exactly cover much ground.

This time we got about 12 miles before stopping at a farcically idyllic camp spot on the slabs above Upper Relief Valley. There was daylight enough to continue, but with the alternative being to, you know, frolic about in crystalline mountain springs cascading down sun-warmed rock—seriously, Babylon-on-Sierra— the climb seemed better left until morning. I went to sleep with the beginnings of a cold but still full of the usual goat-like glee at prospect of a high place, specifically:

Want!

I woke up groggy and thinking I was somehow back in Africa. Unfortunately this was because the morning smelled of woodsmoke and looked like this:

Smoke, not sunrise. Even when camping I do not care to bestir myself that early.

In all likelihood (and of course this turned out to be true) the fire was a hundred miles away. But with a long drive home, work on Monday, and no information on conditions beyond “it wasn’t like this yesterday”—plus my delicate-snowflake asthma on top of, by this point, some serious snot—to proceed seemed unwise. So back we went. Now I’m in bed, nursing yet another sinus infection along with my low-grade (really, Class 3) summit fever. Harrumph. 

So that this post isn’t exclusively weekend-warrior whine, here’s a picture of a fire engine getting towed from the ranger station:

Rescuing rescuers?

This was fascinating, first for the pneumatics and second for novelty of observing wildland firefighters (and I do love observing wildland firefighters) forced to stand around watching someone else operate machinery. And the tow drivers were, I swear, one man with the most robust, cotton-white walrus mustache the world has ever seen, and another in a t-shirt declaring, “When Nature Calls, Shoot It.” Amazing.

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