April 25, Joseph D Grant Ranch

The announcement

We’re going to keep the altitude this week, and even ramp it up a bit. Lack of oxygen is good for your system—according to the “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” theory. We’ll reduce the temperature, avoid googlie berries, and hike under more clouds, maybe even under more trees. Maybe.

Three of us will venture to Grant Ranch on Friday afternoon and lay claim to some minor acreage in anticipation of a Saturday hike, picnic, pot luck dinner and star party. At this point, let’s assume that there won’t be enough room for a helicopter landing—just a heads up for Paul.

On Saturday morning, we’re thinking that there will be two hikes. The first will be for photographers and slow pokes. Not to be confused with sloe pokes, which one would guess is what you use to hold berries used to make the main ingredient of gin fizzes. If you’d like to join me for this idyllic ramble, show up in camp around 8:30. That’s 8:30 AM. The one that happens just after the sun comes up.

You will have to park in the big parking lots down below the campsite hill. The easiest way to the campsite from there is to just follow the paved road. There is a trail that goes from the parking lots to the campsite, but you might get lost and end up beyond the campsite.

If you are planning on attending the picnic or dinner, you will be able to drive your car up to the camp site(s), drop off your coolers and such and drive back down to the parking area. Oh, and Kathy and I probably won’t have any extra cooler space, so plan on cooling your own food. If anyone can ferry extra ice up on Saturday, that would be a help, also.

The early group will either walk over to Grant Lake, or drive. Most likely we’ll walk to Grant Lake. We’re going to have plenty of time for the extra walk, as you’ll soon read. Then we’ll hike up to the ridge, taking lots of pictures. With luck we’ll make it to the ridge line before noon. At least before noon of Tuesday.

The other group should show up at the campsite around 9:45. Make it 9:30 to be safe. We’re not sure where you’ll hike, but let’s assume you’ll take the same trail as “The Idyls” and meet up up on the ridge line. By then, the Idyls should be just about wildflower pictured out, slightly sunburned, and definitely getting the munchies. The current plan is to hike over to twin gates, cross the road, avoiding any chickens along the way, and work our way back to the campground, perhaps taking in the odd pond or two along the way.

We’ll have lunch-A on the trail, and then lunch-B back at camp. Lunch-A you provide for yourself and, if you want to join in lunch-B (a.k.a the “picnic”), you’re welcome. Feel free to bring along something to share. From lunch-B to dinner-A we’ll probably play games, lie comatose, talk about those that didn’t show up, and maybe sing. To be sure to be in on the singing, you should show up for dinner-A which is a pot luck affair.

Around, oh, five-ish, those who want to join us for both food and the star party should meander back to camp. Bring along food and drinks for yourself and a bit to share for dinner-A (hence the term pot luck). I expect that Joanne may say something about food plans for Saturday evening.

After dinner, I may break out the guitar and we’ll have an enthusiastic, if not altogether tonal hootenany.

When it’s dark enough, we’ll walk over the the telescopes, then come back for dinner-B (late night snacks, smores to die for, etc.). This will be followed by a snore fest, late night jaunts to the outhouse, and screams when wild boars poke their nose inside the tent.

Sunday it’s scrambled eggs and sausages before we pack up and head home—slightly sunburned, and slightly sick of looking at wildflowers.

Oh, we’ll be doing the first celebration of Kathy’s birthday this weekend. So practice some version of “Happy Birthday” for the sing-along.

The hike

Grey, Kathy and I held down the fort on Friday at Grant Ranch. My reward was to wake up in 38 degree weather on Saturday morning with various important parts of my body clinging tenaciously to me, ready to shatter with small cause. The highlight was Shirley and her brother Lynn stopping over from their neighboring campsite to swap stories and share body heat.

Kathy made a gourmet supper on Friday and did the same duty for Saturday morning’s breakfast. Our 8:30 photographer’s hike was delayed when we discovered we had lost one of our sets of car keys and began a fine-grained search of the campsite. Then Grey had the great idea that we could avoid another night of camping on the side of a slippery slope by taking over a nearby campsite, which required that we find the park ranger who readily let us move. That slipped our start time even more.

By then, other campers began showing up and we began relocating everyone to the new campsite—all ten of us. Ten of us not including Shirley who was ensconced in a mansion on wheels in the lower acreage. Her tradeoff, though, was to have to listen to a herd of equestrians partying all night.

Equestrians might suggest something fancier than the actual fact. These were cowboy party boys. With gas powered generators. And a lunch table that appeared to hold a row of more than two dozen bottles of various hard liquors. The fact of this was demonstrated when several of the hikers, well, the women hikers, stopped by the restrooms at the start of the hike, which was now creeping up on 10 AM. The guys were standing outside watching Kevin trying to steal hay from a horse when we heard gales of laughter from the ladies. Then a male voice, then more laughter.

Joanne poked her head out and told me to have my camera ready. Just then a cowboy party boy came out of the ladies rest room, all dewey and not the least embarrassed.

There were other adventures along the way: the great split of the group, people cutting short the hike, discovery of desiccated bones (as usual), romping in great flowery leas, re-injuring my knee, the pot luck dinner, smoking the campsite to eliminate mosquitos, the star party, guitar playing, long duration photography, and more. I’d say you should ask others about all the adventures if you missed the hike, but there weren’t too many of you that missed it.

My pictures are here HERE

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