The trail ride back not only tested Mike’s saddle endurance on the steep granite downslopes, but also gave Hali & Mike a chance to study the site of a memorable 1976 backpack they had taken. As Mike has written:
When we reached the banks of the San Joaquin we halted and stared in dismay. The river was flowing in flood stage, at least two feet higher than it was when we had crossed it three days earlier. And, of course, memory does not serve: some recall that the rain stopped at the point of crossing the river; others believe that the rain was still continuing. And now? Now, we simply call it "the Rain Trip." Details of the Rain Trip, a long-planned backpacking event in August, 1976, have now faded into the mists of time, but taken as a whole the experience of a flooded High Sierra still remains remarkably fresh.
The backpackers had camped on the banks of Shadow Creek (now prohibited as being too close to the water) and had struck a bad patch of monsoonal moisture that drenched both the deserts to the south and the Sierra. After all members of the party were thoroughly soaked, the decision was made to leave:
What followed was an actually quite dangerous flight by the whole party that included wading through water waist-high and an extremely hazardous crossing of the San Joaquin River, this last involving a human chain across the river.
. . . the subsequent (dry) trip back to Los Angeles only served to heighten the trip’s seeming unreality, which the intervening years have only enhanced. And now? Now, we simply call it "the Rain Trip."
Photos: "Rain Trip Meadow"—Sierra Nevada, 1976; "Rain Trip Meadow"—Sierra Nevada, 2009; Mike on Redneck—Sierra Nevada, 2009