Early wake up time this morning. The sooner we got started, the sooner we would get back to the car. And the sooner we got back to the car, the sooner we could start the 3 to 4 hour drive home (depending on traffic and whether we got stuck behind slow passholes). I figured we might be able to make the car by lunch time, but Ambrose was a bit more cynical, positing that we might be driving home in the dark. 

I was in a bit of a funk; I didn’t want to get moving. But at least it wasn’t nearly as cold as it had been at the bivy camp. Even though the sun hadn’t found us, the air lacked that bitter chill, and there wasn’t much wind. 

Ambrose is ready to go.

As the leader (according to our permit), I decided Ambrose should navigate us back to the main trail. He needed to learn this trail, and I already knew it. 

Of course, I also didn’t let him get very far off course. We did have a timetable to keep. But his navigation did bring me to remember (again) the point where I lost the trail. I need to remember, after that flat spot (that was covered in water this year), take a right!

Ambrose also led through the snow. In fact, he led most of the day’s hiking. In part, because I wanted to know where he was, and because he was hiking fast enough that I didn’t mind hiking behind him. But the snow was the part where I needed him in front, because the trail he had blazed through the snow two days prior was totally melted. 

Ambrose decreed these pretty, so I had to take a picture.

Once we crested the pass, we were done with the snow. The trail down is so much easier than the trail up. We were able to make really good time down from the pass all the way to the base of the ramp, where we took a break. 

Tree problem on The Ramp.

Ambrose crossing Tripod Creek.

We did a boots/shoes off crossing at the first ford of the Little Queens, but every subsequent stream crossing was done boots/shoes on. Partly for speed, and partly to cool off. Also, I wanted to get used to hiking in wet socks, because it is going to happen. Mesh shoes are cool and light, but they mean your feet can and will get wet. 

I figured my crossing of Tripod Creek with shoes on was sufficient tribute to the water spirit, because neither of us fell in. 

Crossing the Little Queens.

Crossing side stream.

Uh oh, bridge is breaking.

Almost back at the trail head!

I told Ambrose, as we got close, that I needed to use the pit toilet. I wasn’t at the point of racing ahead to get there, but I was going to take the most direct route. I told him that. Specifically. I did consider letting him know as I took the acute left turn after the bridge over the Queens River, but then I decided that having told him once was enough. 

Reader, it was not enough. 

To the immediate left of the bridge, there is a steep trail that comes out close to the pit toilet. That’s the route I took. Ambrose took the normal route, which comes out close to the car. He told me that when he got to the car, he turned around to find me and was surprised that he couldn’t. 

Then he saw my pack over on the picnic table nearest the pit toilet and wondered how I’d beaten him up. 

Silly Ambrose 🙂

Having concluded my business, I brought my pack to the table Ambrose had claimed, the only picnic table at the trail head currently in shade. Then I walked over the car and brought it to the table as well so we could make lunch. See, we had initially planned on eating an early lunch, but when we realized we were going to make it to the trail head by lunch time, we just pushed. 

And now, we would be rewarded, with Minute Rice and Dinty Moore Beef Stew. Sure, it doesn’t sound like much, but I would have eaten both cold if Ambrose hadn’t tossed a bag of Goodfish salmon skins (so yummy) at me to stave off the hunger. Because we had both developed some major hiker hunger on this trip, and over ten miles in half a day just stoked our engines. 

Having devoured my portion (and maybe a little of Ambrose’s), I was ready for the drive home. No drama this time, although I really need to figure out a snow cone or slushie place that’s on the way home, because that would have really hit the spot, but I was too lazy to drive far out of my way to get any. Next time! 


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