ALL-TROUT 2002: The Legend of Cujo
South Lake to Saddlerock Lake via Bull Lake
Walking Trout Commentary:
This was the first year of Steve’s digital camera. It was a nice camera but it looks like it had a problem dealing with the haze we encountered the first few days of the trip. The pre-2002 trips are going to take quite a bit more effort – looking through boxes for pictures and negatives, scanning the pics, etc. I suppose that will be part of the “fun.” The good news is that almost all of the journals are intact, with trips going back to 1991. That said, here is the 2002 text, as it appears in the handwritten journal. I wouldn’t call this my best writing, but it is thankfully short. I am typing this web page some nine years later, so I don’t recall writing this journal but it does appear to be written after-the-fact (there is an entry to this effect). This may explain the poor writing.
Steve and Charles only. Stuart was absent because he was called up in the Army Reserve to go to Germany and Qatar to fight terrorism. We thank him sincerely for his service. Rick was absent because a few days before our trip, his father-in-law died unexpectedly and prematurely due to a heart attack. Our thoughts go out to Rick, Melissa and her family.
This is the first year we extended the trip from two nights to three nights in the backwoods – an excellent change.
Day 1: South Lake to Bull Lake
Met at South Lake. Rain had come through. I had driven the green Z car… whee. Late afternoon hike to Bull Lake, a small lake which we didn’t really explore. We got there around dusk and made camp.
CHARLES AT SOUTH LAKE TRAILHEAD. HE LOOKS VERY HAPPY.
Two events are worth noting from the first night at Bull Lake. First, as we drank our tequila, we both started laughing at the size of the monster tequila shots. The result was that we both shot tequila out our noses, or at least deep into our sinus cavities. I can’t describe with any accuracy the pain this caused. It was actually a very bad time for 10 minutes or so. Now, two years later, Charles tells me he hasn’t fully recovered.
The second event was that while sitting in our camp, I saw the eyes of an approaching bear reflecting off the light of my flashlight. Scared, I stuttered “Ch-ch-charles” to get Charles’ attention. As the bear approached, I realized it was actually a dog. Suffice it to say, Charles got a good laugh out of my initial fear. I blame the tequila.
CHARLES SITS NEAR THE TEQUILA.
This was the first year with Charles’ “miner’s lamp” head-mounted flashlight. I actually laughed at him when I saw it, and knowing me I am sure I made a disparaging remark. I had to eat humble pie, however. As I fumbled with my gear in the evenings, holding my flashlight in either my teeth or under an arm, I knew that I would buy a miner’s lamp flashlight as soon as the trip was over. I now consider them an indespensible part of my gear.
CLEARLY THE BEAR-DOG IS FEROCIOUS AND RABID. ANYONE WOULD HAVE BEEN AFRAID.
We adopted the dog for the evening, feeding it our freeze-dried enchilada dinner (which it didn’t like) and then our $20-per-pound beef jerkey from Mahogany Smoked Meats in Biship (which it enjoyed immensely). The dog was an extremely well behaved and well groomed border collie.
MORNING AT BULL LAKE. CHARLES HAS SURVIVED THE NIGHT WITH THE BEAR.
HAZY VIEW NEAR BULL LAKE.
CHARLES, BULL LAKE, AND AN ANGRY PIT-BULL.
APTLY NAMED “LONG LAKE” (EN ROUTE TO SADDLEROCK LAKE).
In the morning, we left Bull Lake and hiked up to Saddlerock Lake, a high-altitude lake nestled below Bishop Pass. But first, we cut a length of rope and used it as a leash to tame the ferocious dog. As we hiked up to Saddlerock Lake, we sent the dog down the mountain with some backpackers who were heading out. We wrote a short chronicle of the dog’s stay with us and sent that down with the dog, so the owner would know where we found him. We mentioned that we wanted no “cash reward” but said we’d be happy to accept a pitcher of beer at the Pizza Factory in Lone Pine that coming Sunday.
We arrived at Saddlerock Lake in uncharacteristic and extreme heat. Because of the heat, we were so out of it we kept wandering around aimlessly, unable to decide on a camp spot. We even napped. Finally we picked a spot, set up camp, and fished the lake (with great success).
CHARLES NEARS HEAT EXHAUSTION.
STEVE TAKES CREDIT FOR ONLY TWO FISH (WHICH IS ONE MORE THAN CHARLES CAUGHT)
THEY WERE PRETTY, AND TASTY. ONE COULD SAY THEY WERE PRETTY TASTY.
During our second day at Saddlerock Lake, we hiked up to Bishop Pass and ate lunch at the summit. It was very neat up there in the rocks, and there was a great view (with an enormous drop off) of the valley we’d hiked up.
CHARLES AT SADDLEROCK LAKE.
CAMP SADDLEROCK LAKE.
CHARLES WAS INTO YOGA WAY BEFORE YOGA WAS COOL.
SADDLEROCK LAKE (CHARLES STANDS ON THE PENINSULA IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PHOTO)
STEVE AT BISHOP PASS. THIS IS UNUSUAL POSE #1.
SARDINES AT BISHOP PASS
FROM WHENCE WE CAME. (SADDLEROCK LAKE, ANOTHER LAKE, AND LONG LAKE)
UNUSUAL POSE #2.
THE CRAGS OF BISHOP PASS. UNNAMED HIKER SHOWS THE SCALE.
CHARLES CONTEMPLATES VERTICAL NAVIGATION – MOSTLY DESCENDING.
CHARLES FLYFISHES AT SADDLEROCK LAKE.
CHARLES AT LONG LAKE ON OUR WAY BACK DOWN.
LONG LAKE, WITHOUT STEVE OR CHARLES.
APPARENTLY WE LIKED TAKING PICTURES AT LONG LAKE.
I MEAN, WE REALLY, REALLY LIKED TAKING PICTURES AT LONG LAKE.
THIS ISN’T A PICTURE OF CHARLES AT THE TRAILHEAD. IT IS A PICTURE OF MY OLD GREEN Z.
When we arrived at the Pizza Factory, the manager was taping this note to the front door:
It turns out the dog’s owner got a kick out of the note we sent with the dog, and was extremely appreciative. He called the store manager and paid not only for a pitcher of beer, but for our whole lunch! We even spoke to him on the restaurant’s house phone. He explained that his dog had wandered off from South Lake, about 2.5 miles to our camp.
Even though Charles and I shared the effort of caring for the dog equally, the people at the Pizza Factory kept giving me all the credit for some reason. They wouldn’t even acknowledge Charles’ presence – for example, he placed our lunch order and gave them the name “Charles” – but when the food was ready, they announced “Steve, your order is ready.” We have no explanation for why that happened, but we both thought it funny. As a result, Charles started calling me “The Lord of Lone Pine,” a name which has stuck for years to come.
Charles requested the following items to be mentioned, which he calls “a list of Steve’s follies”:
- Steve brought his stove and told Charles to leave his behind. It turns out Steve didn’t bring enough fuel, but that didn’t matter anyway, because the stove stopped working altogether!
- Steve didn’t bring any toilet paper. None.
- When Steve was cleaning the water purifier after the trip, he realized a gasket/seal had given out, and that we’d basically been drinking unfiltered lake water for three days. Steve waited two weeks after the trip was over to disclose this to Charles… to make sure we hadn’t contracted guardia.