Mike arrives in the small town of Big Pine and turns left, heading up into the mountains. The road curves through the foothills, then continues to climb . . . and climb . . . and climb. Finally: aspens and conifers and campgrounds. The first campground he comes to is closed for the season. Uh-oh, he thinks. Luckily, the next campground (the Upper Sage Flat Campground) is still open . . . and completely vacant as well.
As the sound of Big Pine Creek echos around him, Mike picks a nice open area for his campsite, hoping that it’ll be slightly more sunny than the more secluded, creekside spots. Of particular interest is some abandoned rusted-out equipment (mining? irrigation?) in the ditch adjacent to the site. Temperature is in the 50s. After setting the tent up, Mike goes for a short day hike. Temple Crag looms in the distance with the Palisade Glacier group at the crest.
After his obligatory first-night-camp scramble/omelet, Mike reads a bit in the car, then heads over to the tent. It’s now 35º. He tries to read a bit in his sleeping bag, but eventually the frigid air on his fingers persuades him that it’s time for lights out.
Photos: Temple Crag & Sierra Crest—Sierra Nevada, 2009; Campsite near Big Pine Creek—Sierra Nevada, 2009; Abandoned Equipment—Sierra Nevada, 2009