This trip requires a little back ground. I was planning to take my wife, Lynn, and youngest daughter, Niki, to Saddlebag Lake on Wednesday July 7 (they had never been east of Tuolumne Meadows) for a little car camping, fishing, and a run up North Peak for me. Tuesday night Niki became ill and was running a temp. Wednesday morning she was better, but not over what ever she had, and my wife's neck was bothering her. So a no go on the trip. Later on Wednesday morning Lynn’s sister called to say her mother in law was gravely ill and could my oldest daughter come up and work in the store while her husband went to be with his mom. Malia doesn’t drive and one of us would need to drive her to Rancho Cordova. A little while later my brother called and said he would like to come by. We hadn’t seen him in 8 months since he lives in Japan and we hadn’t seen his wife or daughter in over a year. We would have missed these calls if we had left on the trip.
While I was pleased to be able visit with my brother and his family I was disappointed in losing out on the trip. My motto for the summer (which my wife said was a good one) is “A peak a week is all I ask.” I got on SP searched around and decided I cold head for Mount Lola after dropping Malia off at work and then pick her up on the way home. My wife said good plan and I was still able to get my peak in as well as a 2 more county high points.
When I got to the Mount Lola trailhead I noticed a few other cars and I wondered if any of them were SPers. I started up the trail at noon. I know, a pretty late start, but there was nothing I could do about that. About a half hour along I saw someone coming down the trail. I asked if he had been up to the summit and he said yes. And North Lola? Yes again and then he asked me if I was a County High pointer and introduced himself as Dean Molen
! WOW! I have probably communicated (e-mail, SP, even phone) with Dean more than any other SPer, yet had never met the gentleman. We must have talked for 45 minutes or so. We finally parted ways, he headed back to his car and more county high points, and me on up to toward the summit.
The trail soon met a logging road and a sign nailed to a tree pointed right, which is good since that is the way toward the mountain. As I followed the road I missed the cairn which marked where the trail left the road. Soon I came to a junction. One road continued west and level above the meadow mentioned in Gary Suttle’s book and one road headed up a slope. I took the up slope road. After a couple of hundred yards I looked back down at the meadow and could see the trail I should have been on all along. I turned around and headed for the place I should have been. The rest of the trip was a pleasant walk through the woods with expanding views as the trees thinned and I neared the summit. At the summit the wind was blowing pretty good so I settled down into the wind break to sign the log, have a snack and rest a bit. As I got my camera to take a couple of pictures I felt a pain in my lower back, reached around and discovered a bee had stung me through my shirt just above the belt line. Now it itched more than hurt and my pack would be rubbing it. Oh well not much I could do except be thankful I wasn’t allergic to stings. After I took my picture i finished my snack. As I was standing up to put my pack on to leave I heard a startled Aggh!, I turned and had the same reaction. There stood a women holding a shovel! “Where did you come from?” She had come up the west side and was doing trail maintenance. She was soon joined by her husband and we chatted for a while.
I needed to get going so I took off north along the ridge, occasionally seeing other boot tracks, to get to Lola North, the high point of Sierra County and 1.2 miles away. I found and signed the summit register. Dean mentioned a shorter route route down from Lola North rather than retrace my steps. He said head east off the ridge and you will find a logging road. I headed east and soon found the logged area and followed a skidding path to the road. I followed it and cut off sections by heading down along other skid paths. I did see some bear scat and a few footprints along the road and wondered if these were there when Dean had been along or had the bear traveled along the road between our passings? Soon I found myself above the meadow and this was the road I accidentally taken earlier. This route saved me a couple of miles and a fair amount of time. The rest of the trip was pleasant and I arrived back at the car at 6. Six hours round trip. Not bad considering I must have spent almost 1.5 hours total talking to people. I headed back to pick up Malia and head home from a very nice day.
Was it fate, providence, or just a series of incredible coincidences that allowed this day to happen?