It innocently enough, a trail marked by little blue diamonds, climbing past an oil tank, in a national park. All was snow-covered, the trail buried waist-deep. It was late June.
The Pacific Crest trail would be well-marked, one would think. A continuous two thousand miles of footpath would have to be. Certainly, better marked than a small fork heading up Dutton Creek. Or not.
Soon after the blue diamonds disappeared, we happened upon a bog of pestilence, and I now know what a plague feels like. When the mosquitoes are so thick on your forearms that you have to choose between killing them every other second or taking time out to swat at the ones on your face, that's a plague. We did an uphill mile in about ten minutes.
After eucalyptus and lemon drove the little monsters off, we regrouped. And realized that this was NOT on the map, this bog. After deciding that the creek must be right over there, we forged ahead with wills of steel and our heads down. When we crossed the tenth tiny rivulet of water, making our map completely obselete, it was decided that the only option was up. To the lake, to triumph.
We scrambled. Rock climbed, handing the packs up bit by bit. The slope never hesitated for a moment, mounting up before us after each false summit. We were fucking lost.
The desparate are inventive, and willing to experiment. When my friend said, "hey, that rock looks like the picture on the front of the map, just from the other side", I said ,"We're not going off the fucking picture." Yet we did. and after another couple miles, with the sun sinking in for the night and nary a campsite left bare by the snow, Rim Drive was under our feet, and the rapidly cooling air breezing by our extended thumbs as car after car after car blew by us, some waving, as if that was friendly. We ate by the side of the road - eggs and beef jerky is an excellent combination - and finally got a ride back down to our car.