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User / photography by Derek G / Part 22
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I decided to hike back to Garnet Lake base camp a day early and I also decided to take the Pacific Crest Trail back instead of going cross country again. I made good time going back and reached Island Pass in no time at all. Soon after I made it to 1000 Island Lake. Here I stopped for lunch and a long break.
1000 Island Lake is a long lake in a valley. Garnet Lake is also a long lake in a parallel valley. Between the two lakes is a ridge. There are 3 possible routes I could take to get from 1000 to Garnet. The first is the Pacific Crest Trail Route that winds it's between each out flow. The second is the middle route that once was the old John Muir Trail route that is no longer maintained, it crosses the ridge that separates the two lakes and would drop me right onto the base camp. The third route is the cross country route that I took several days earlier.
I decided I was going to take the first route, but I felt an urge to take the middle route. I ignored it and began to follow the trail. The urge became more pressing and harder to ignore until I finally gave in to it. I spent a good 30-40 minutes looking for the middle route, since it was long ago forgotten and was over grown and not obvious. Eventually I found it and followed the crumbling trail, as I climbed over rock slides and fallen logs. Now that I was on the middle route is was fairly easy to follow though I did miss a couple of turns and had to double back.
I reached the small lake at the top and then began the climb down. Forest now gathered around me and the trail became steep. Then out of the trees, in front of me appeared a person, wandering around looking lost and confused. Getting closer I realized it was Jan, the lady I had come up here with, who had stayed at base camp. I called out to her and she spun around. Surprised she replied, “Derek, am I glad to see you, I seem to have lost the trail and can't find a safe way down.” We walked together back to base camp. Along the way she filled me in on the events back at camp.
A large group had arrived with mules loaded with mountains of gear and wanted to set up camp right on the beach next to our camp and the other group who had arrived right before I left for my solo hike. Jan had talked them into going to another area just a bit further on so our camp didn't become a tent city. The other group was very grateful for this and invited her to join them each night for dinner and campfire-less songs. (no camp fires are allowed here).
When we got back to camp the group that had adopted Jan saw us return and welcomed me back saying that Jan had told them all about my wanderings and that they would love for me to join them for dinner and tell them all about it. So that night for dinner we all gathered in their camp and told told stories and jokes. Someone passed around a hot pot full of tea while one of them pulled out a small guitar and another a harmonica. Then they all began to sing songs. As the evening grew old and the light faded the festivities came to an end and we all retired to our tents and sleeping bags for the night.
The next morning I was invited to go for a ride in the kayak that belonged to one of the guys from the group from the night before. The lake was still and mirror like as the kayak glided effortlessly over the waveless surface. We passed by the many small islands and over shallow areas where the bottom was clearly seen. Once we returned to shore I thanked him for taking me out in his kayak.
The other group that had arrive while I was gone were a group of painters from San Francisco. I asked several of them if I could photograph them as they painted. Some of them painted vast landscapes, other painted small landscapes and details, all had different techniques and styles, all made beautiful pieces. That night Jan and I joined the first group again for dinner and songs.
The next evening the painters had a showing of all the pieces they painted and we were all invited. Jan never showed up which concerned me because she had been looking forward to it. Not long after I arrived at the wilderness art show two lady's I had never seen before came asking for me saying that Jan was sick and needed me, so me and four others from the first group went with them to see what was going on. Along the way I learned that everyone in their group were ER doctors and nurses.
Jan was laying in the bushes along the lake shore not far from our camp. She was sick to her stomach and suffering from vertigo. She explained weakly that she suffered from Meniere's Disease, A rare disorder of the inner ear that causes episodes of vertigo, the sensation of spinning. She was unable to stand or walk and couldn't keep anything down, including water. We decided to make her as comfortable as we could right where she was, and I was going to spend the night right there next to her. We also sent out an SOS.
In the morning she was able to slowly and shakily move back towards camp, but only got half way so we had her lay down in the shade of some trees. The mules were scheduled to come pick up the two of us and the other two groups today, but if she couldn't walk she certainly wasn't going to be able to ride. We packed up her gear and took down her tent. The mules came and took our gear out and the mule people were able to relay more detailed info to search and rescue. One of the mule guys spread her blue sleeping bag out on the beach and laid some rocks on it. I told them I would stay with Jan until the helicopter came to get her. Soon every one was gone and it was just the two of us.
The helicopter didn't arrive until late in the afternoon. There was only about one and a half hours before sunset when it finally arrived. Once they had her I walked out without the burden of my pack. Night fell and the forest that I was hiking through became especially dark beneath the trees. At one point I saw the blue eye shine of a bear in front of me but it ran off before I got too close. I arrived back at Agnew pack station around 930pm. I gathered my gear from inside their storage shed, then drove to Mammoth Lakes Hospital to check on how Jan was doing. She was doing better but was still dizzy. She gave me her house keys so I could get some of my gear that was at her house. I then drove back to the town of Bishop, and got to her place. I showered and spent that night in the guest room that I stayed in before the trip. Then I headed home the next day.
Jan has now fully recovered.

In 3 days I leave for another High Sierra adventure.
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  • Taken: Aug 26, 2021
  • Uploaded: Jul 12, 2022
  • Updated: Aug 2, 2022