With my lodging arranged for, I could now go about my day in the park.
I then headed on down to the rendezvous spot where I’d planned to meet the backpack crew. I passed one of the geysers that was a short hike and thought that I might run up and see it, but someone coming down said that it was a half hour hike, which seemed like twice as long as I thought I’d read it was. Time was getting tight on getting to the trail head by 1:00, and I didn’t have time to get an hour hike in, so I moved on.
I had Mr. Clean’s phone number and had sent him some texts, but knew that there was no coverage in the back country where they had been. The rendezvous point was all we had.
As I got a bit down the road, it occurred to me that the half hour that they’d reported was the round-trip time to the geyser and back to the car. I still don’t know how to talk about this hiking thing.
I got to what I thought might be the spot to meet up with the backpack crew, but there was no sign of them. I saw a guy there in a Eurovan Westfalia with “Frodo 6” displayed on the top, very much like Walden’s. Obviously, I had to talk to him. As I approached, he at first seemed a bit put off that I was interrupting him, but the next thing I knew he was explaining that he’d had a Westfalia of every generation, hence the “6” on his camper’s moniker. Not surprisingly, he was a huge fan, and claimed that every new generation was a significant improvement over the previous one. We chatted for quite a while.
The kids with the packs still hadn’t shown up. I had a vague notion of where their OB4 back country site had been, and I headed on down the road to look for a trail head that seemed like it was the one that they’d be coming out of. I found the spot that was where they’d be hiking in to the next night’s site, and there was still no sight of them.
A couple was parked in front of me snacking out of the back of their car, and we started talking. The next thing I knew the woman was feeding me carrots. Then it was turkey. Before I knew it, I had what counted as my lunch. They said that the hike to Fairy Falls and Imperial Geyser was awesome and easy. I was already pretty committed to checking out this thing, but it was good to hear someone saying that it was indeed a good idea. The kids still hadn’t showed, so I went down the road a bit farther to see if I could find another place that they might be.
I did locate the trail head that seemed like the one that they’d be coming out of. I scribbled “Mr. Clean” on the front of one of my cards and wrote a note on the back explaining that I had a camp site that they could set up their tents at and that I was going to be hiking to Fairy Falls.
Back at the Fairy Falls trail head, I left a similar note on Walden and headed on in. It wasn’t an especially interesting hike. The first part was on a road, the second went through a twisty passage though some pines. As I was headed down the trail, I got a handful of text messages from Mr. Clean. They were late, and, travel being what it is, their group of four had become two groups of two. Mr. Clean seemed concerned that I establish contact with Little Bird and Ox, who were headed toward their back country site near Fairy Falls. I sent some messages, but got no response.
Meanwhile, Fairy Falls was pretty spectacular. I hung out there for a while, and then pushed on to Imperial Geyser.
At a brisk pace, Imperial Geyser was about twenty minutes further. It was erupting as I arrived. It was this beautiful blue pool with water spouting out. And it just kept spouting. I think I’d heard that it goes all the time. The couple whom had fed me at the trail head earlier arrived and fed me some trail mix. It kept going the whole while that I was there, which was close to an hour.
I got a couple of texts from Little Bird or, maybe it was Ox, I wasn’t quite sure whose phone it was. It said that they were at the trail head. Of course given the sporadic connectivity that we each had, it was difficult to know when the message had been sent.
I figured I’d see Little Bird and Ox on my way back from Fairy Falls, but never did. I passed a spot where folks were clamoring up a hill, apparently to get a few of some water feature. It was the Prismatic Pool, which my mother had said was not to be missed, so I figured I’d give it a shot. It turned out to be pretty pretty indeed. I climbed back down and headed for the car. Still no sign of my animal-named friends.
On the way back to the campground, I saw a guy walking a bike. Walking a bike is never a good thing, and for someone who’s obviously traveling by bike, it’s a sure sign of trouble. I stopped by a guard rail on a curve and asked the guy if he needed a ride. He did. I got out and tried to help him get in. At about that time I realized that I’d stopped in an very dangerous spot. It was difficult for cars to see to get around me, and was really just a dumb thing to do. Nevertheless, I threw his bike into the bike and we were back on the road.
I then recognized Phil as being the guy I’d seen the day before lying on the side of the road on the way to Lone Star geyser. He was headed for the same campground that I was. He hadn’t realized that it was twelve miles up a steep road. He was quite thankful to have a ride.
He offered to buy beer or dinner or something, but there was no store in the vicinity. I had beer and dinner supplies. While Phil pitched his tent. I whipped up some pasta with clam sauce that was alright, if I do say so myself.
As the night went on, Phil regaled me with stories of his trip through Moab and Arches National Park, where it was so hot that his tires finally blew out due to the heat. And then there was the one of how he’d made a plan to check in with the ranger at a particular spot each day. He’d left at 2:00 AM to beat the heat. He got to that day’s appointed spot, but wasn’t ready to quit riding, so he went on to the next one. Not being in the spot where he’d arranged to meet the ranger seemed foolhardy to me, but he made it to the next day’s spot, and she’d found him there. He’d spent the previous night camped illegally off the road where I’d first seen him laying in repose.
Finally, we called it a night and I headed to Walden and Phil to his tent. It was an especially cold night. I was quite happy that the furnace worked that night.