Waxing Crescent Moon
Yesterday was one stroke of good luck after another. After my Paradise Creek hike, I picked up, broke camp, and headed north on the narrow winding road through the park toward the Giant Forest, where all the really big trees are. A Giant Blinking Sign informed me to expect one-hour delays due to construction on an eighteen-mile stretch of the road coming up P Darn Quick. But nope, no delay for me. I pulled up to the end of a Giant Line of Cars and was about to shut off Spugly's engine when presto, a Giant Portly Gent with a red flag started waving everybody through. Total wait time? < 10 seconds. Perhaps it was luck or perhaps it was my trusty vehicle's spectacular ugliness, I will never know for sure.
I drove past the construction to the Lodgepole Campground, the most popular campground in Sequoia NP, and began to explain to the friendly young miss in the Giant Ranger Hat at the tiny little kiosk how difficult it is for a person of my age and disposition to plan very far ahead, far enough ahead to make and keep campground reservations for example, and how that did not necessarily make me stupid or a Giant Dufus. She was sort of amused. Then she said I was in luck because she just that minute got a cancellation notice for site #93 and furthermore I could have it for the Senior Pass rate of $11. Cool.
What followed was probably the most fortunate happening of this very fortunate day. I found my campsite, got all set up, went for a leisurely walk to get the lay of the land, and returned with the keen sense that I smelled like Giant Cow Poo. After two hikes that day, I really needed a bath. I gathered my soap and camp towel and washcloth plus a clean set of clothes and moseyed over to the restroom that serves D Loop, my local collection of sites.
I was really looking forward to not smelling like Giant Cow Poo. I made a beeline to the propped-open door on the side of the restroom nearest my camp. Inside, there were three stalls with closed doors along the back wall and two clean sinks, one on each side of the propped open door. I immediately stripped down and began my oft-practiced routine of taking a cold water hobo bath, using my washcloth to clean my body with a minimum of wasted water. I am really, really good at this. I can get very clean and refreshed in a few minutes, dry off and get dressed and out of the restroom in a few more minutes after that.
On the way out of the restroom, feeling squeaky clean, I happened to glance back and notice something that made me feel like a Giant Idiot. The sign above the restroom door read "WOMEN." Whoops! I had been bare-ass nekked in the Women's restroom for at least six minutes. I was so lucky that nobody was in one of those stalls or that nobody walked in on me while I was rinsing off the Giant Cow Poo smell in the nice clean sink. Whew!
This morning, I awoke rested and fragrant and after a bowl of gruel and a Giant Mug of coffee, I headed straight for the Tokopah Valley Trail. Actually, I stopped at the propped-open door that read "MEN" for a minute first. But then I hiked to the trail head and began the 1.7 mile easy peasy walk up toward Tokopah Falls along Tokopah Creek. It was nice!
This was a perfectly cool, sunny morning. I met very few other hikers and I enjoyed the smells and sounds of the forest and the muted water in the low-flowing creek. It was obvious that in.other seasons, the flow in Tokopah Creek was much higher, but it was still fun to be in the woods.
Gaining elevation, soon there were fewer trees and more exposed Sierra Nevada granodiorite twinkling in the sunlight. A sign warned against leaving shoes and packs untended because marmots would probably chew on them to get a little snack of salt left behind by your perspiration. Marmots. Cool. Who doesn't love marmots?
There was no water at all up by the falls, so I was not tempted to take a dip and test the marmot shoe/pack/salt theory. I did, however, at the end of the trail below where the waterfall would be had there been water, immediately encounter a marmot. Sure enough, he (I think) was doing what marmots always do - he was licking the rocks to get that fine taste of salt from the sodium rich plagioclase feldspar in the granodiorite. A handsome specimen of marmotry was he.
I attempted to converse in English with this marmot with little success. The more I talked, the more he eyed my trail runners, like he was trying to convince me with telepathy to shed my shoes so he could give them a good chewing. He was not interested in my thoughts or advice. He was interested in my salt. In the middle of my lengthy monologue about the Sierra Nevada batholith and what he might expect rather soon from human-caused climate change, he got bored and hustled off, leaving me alone to ponder the water-less Tokopah Falls.
Subsequently, I learned from a friend who should know that this marmot is rather famous locally and that he even has a name. According to my friend who herself shall remain nameless, I had been visited by the one and only Mr. Goldie, the mascot marmot of Tokopah Falls. Man! Talk about lucky!
Now that I am home, I can state with approximately 95% confidence that Tokopah Falls a) has a marmot mascot, b) his name is Mr. Goldie, and c) I actually met Mr. Goldie and not one of his stand-in stunt doubles. Naturally, as an actual Great Big Skeptic, I am about 5% suspicious that my friend is just pulling my leg.
Peace, Love, and Mr. Goldie, Maybe,