Day 10: Big Pete Meadow to Deer Meadow (8.7 mi.)
Aug. 6: The good news at breakfast is that Vic found his horse and mules; the bad news is that no resupply miraculously appeared overnight. We had decided yesterday to move on to Deer Meadow—with or without resupply. It’s not that much further from Bishop Pass than where we are now, and if we don’t move on, we’ll have to go into overdrive or skip our next layover day if it comes in today.
Unbelievably, the stock had retraced their steps 12+ miles back up over Muir Pass at night. One would have thought they would have been way too tired to turn around and go back up. (Guess they didn’t mind that 3000+ downhill after all.) Vic got back to camp at about 10 p.m. last night.
We leave camp at 9:20 a.m. for Deer Meadow (8860). It’s a beautiful day and we have a fairly easy walk ahead of us—not a whole lot of up or a whole lot of down.
The trail continues down Le Conte Canyon, following the Middle Fork of the Kings River. In a half mile or so, we come to Little Pete Meadow which is bigger that Big Pete Meadow. Then, in another half mile, we pass the ranger station at the junction with the Bishop Pass Trail. Here Tony stops to leave a note for the resupply, to make sure they know we have moved on to Deer Meadow.
The trail continues to follow the Middle Fork through a heavily forested canyon with high cliffs above until it reaches Grouse Meadows in 3+ miles. This is a gorgeous, lush meadow which we walk right through the middle of (usually we‘re walking along the perimeter of meadows).
About a mile below the meadow where Palisade Creek joins the Middle Fork, the trail turns east to follow Palisade Creek for another 3.5 miles to Deer Meadow. At the confluence, we find a nice spot to stop and eat our lunch. As we follow Palisade Creek, we see signs of a past forest fire as we walk through a patchwork of forests and meadows. I arrive at our campsite about 2:30 p.m. Everyone’s here except Dina. She’s usually walking behind James and Mark, but way ahead of the rest of us. Somehow she must have missed the campsite and continued on. Sure enough, she soon arrives, having gotten almost to the Golden Staircase without finding us, she realized she’d gone too far and retraced her steps.
There’s not much meadow at Deer Meadow. The campsite is nestled among the lodgepole pine right next to Palisade Creek. A lovely spot. And, since it was an easy day, everyone is prepared for an afternoon of waiting for the mules with their books or fishing poles. But first, some of us soak our feet in the creek and luxuriate in the opportunity to have a nice place to sit, sunshine, running water, and time—all at the same time.
(At this point, my tape must have broken because I have no notes for several days until I notice that it broke and start a new one. Consequently, details are based on recall for the next few days and, therefore, subject to all kinds of recall error.)
As the day fades into evening, we begin to get anxious about our resupply. No backpacker even appears with a couple of day’s worth of food. Dave surely would have told his boss that we didn’t have more than two days left. Did he not make it out with his sprained ankle? Assuming he made it out, resupply should have come in today—if the pass has been opened. The ranger had expected the pass to be open by today. Didn’t it open yet? If it didn’t open, why didn’t the packer send another backpacker?
We eat our last real dinner and drink lots of wine. We do have lots of that left. Debbie says she can find something for us to eat tomorrow. It won’t be our usual fare or in large quantities, but we won’t starve. But, that’s it. If we don’t get more food tomorrow, we have to get out of here. So, we have no choice but to take another layover day tomorrow and hope our food arrives. We can’t get any further away from Bishop Pass—the only reasonable resupply route and the only reasonable exit point if we don’t get resupplied. Surely, MLPO will send another backpacker with food if a pack train can’t make it over the pass.
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