In Search of Barnhardy
Copyright © 2003 by Richard S. Platz
All Rights Reserved

DeGarmo Canyon-Barnhardy Backpack
Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge
June 1-8, 2003

High desert in bloom;
Just once, and never again

Snow blanketed the high country, smothering forests thirsty from years of drought. More precipitation had fallen in December than in any month on record. April was the wettest ever. Yet two wet months do not undo the ravages of prolonged drought. Beneath the snows bark beetles were killing the weakened trees.

Phone calls to a half-dozen ranger districts told of heavy snows, frozen lakes, and trails blocked by blown-down trees. In the Trinities Swift Creek trail was closed half-way to Parker Creek. The road to Big Flat was open, but you could not get to Caribou Lakes. In the Marbles the lakes in the Shackleford drainage were still frozen. Snow covered the trails to North Yolla Bolly and Black Rock Lakes. All trails above Pepperdine Campground in the Warners were still under snow.

So where could we backpack?

On Sunday we loaded our backpacks into the van, uncertain if they would be of any use. The temperature rose into the 90's along the Trinity River, making it difficult to ponder snow drifts and frozen lakes. Somewhere along the way we decided to try backpacking in the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge.

Monday morning we took Highway 97 from Weed, climbed the Cascades over Grass Lake summit, and drove through the arid Butte Valley past Macdoel, Dorris, and on to Klamath Falls, where we caught Highway 140 east to Lakeview. There we located the main headquarters for the Hart Mountain Antelope and Sheldon Wildlife Refuges on the second floor of the glass-and-aluminum-trimmed post office building, which grew like a cubist mushroom from the fertile center of the little cow town. Not many visitors apparently found their way up the elevator, and the rangers there fairly fluttered to tell us about their refuges. They called in the Head Ranger. "Sure you can backpack there! Well, no, can't really remember anyone else ever actually doing it. Where exactly? Well, anywhere! It's a big place. Just crawls with hunters in the Fall." They sent us off with armloads of maps and full-color pamphlets, but without much clarity about where we might be able to find water.

Highway 140 joins Highway 395 in Lakeview, jogs north a few miles, then separates and shoots east again over the high volcanic Warner plateau. Halfway to Adel, County Road 3-13, signed the Plush Cutoff, cuts off north to Plush, a tiny farm community in a graben on the western shore of Hart Lake. Across the lake the steep block fault escarpment of Hart Mountain rises as a 3000-foot wall, crowned by snowcapped Warner Peak. We topped off the van's tank with regular (the only gasoline sold at the Plush general store), bought a bundle of juniper firewood, and continued along Road 3-13, now appropriately called Hart Mountain Road, as it crossed the long levee at the north end of Hart Lake, then climbed north up the alluvial fan at the base of the towering scarp. Pavement ended as we entered the refuge, and signs announced that pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep could be viewed on the cliffs above, but even with slick new Pentax binoculars, we saw nothing.

At an elevation of 5620 feet, the park headquarters of the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge occupies a seventy-year-old stone building surrounded by graying wooden barns and outbuildings. Located on Rock Creek at the intersection of unpaved Hart Mountain and French Glen roads, the compound has the air of an abandoned farmstead. The afternoon was hot and dry without a cloud in the sky. Mirages shimmered over the wide expanse of sage descending east forty miles into the Catlow Valley. A lone antelope bounded away from us as we drove across the creek near the headquarters. No one was inside the main office, but we filled out a back country registration card and thumb-tacked it to the bulletin board per instructions, then perused the posted literature, photos, and maps.

Growing increasingly concerned about where water might be found, we rousted a young ranger out of the equipment barn. Tan and sturdy with a short blond crewcut, he wiped his hands on a red rag, reliably at home in the unnerving expanse of sagebrush. His stance let us know that he was not an interpretive ranger, no indeed, and he had no time for fools. He confirmed that there were plenty of places to go and spend a night or two. I asked about Willow Creek, and the ranger said, fine, but thought DeGarmo Canyon or Barnhardy would be a better choice. He refused to commit to any water flowing in the canyons below Mt. Warner, in DeGarmo Canyon, at Barnhardy, or anywhere else for that matter. Anyone who had to ask about water, he implied, maybe shouldn't be out here. Here a cowpoke finds such things out for himself, then keeps them to himself. We thanked him, filled our water jug, and retired to study the maps.

At the Hot Springs Campground a couple of miles up the road we found a campsite in an aspen grove along Rock Creek. The ground was moist, but not muddy, so we were able to drive right up to a stone fire ring in the willow and alder thickets beside the creek. Only a few other vehicles were spread throughout the various arms of the campground, none nearby. It had been a long day of driving.

We walked up the road to what remained of the bath house. Since our last visit, the high stone walls had been broken down to about four feet in height, and the entrance door removed. No longer was a sign posted to lock the door and limit your time to 15 minutes if people were waiting. Privacy was compromised, yes, but the tradeoff was an expansive view from the hot tub of the surrounding sage-covered hills. Overall, we agreed, it was an improvement. No one else was around, so we doffed our cloths, climbed down the rusty steel ladder into the rocky basin, and enjoyed a leisurely soak as the natural hot water bubbled up through our toes from the sandy floor.

The evening was sultry. We built our fire, cooked dinner, and laid back in our folding chairs. Lots of birds flitted around us in the shrubs and lush grass, which, unfortunately, also harbored a corps of whining mosquitos. They drove us into the van shortly after sunset.

After breakfast on Tuesday morning we loaded our backpacks and reloaded the van, then drove a quarter mile, past the campground hosts, and parked at the gate across the Barnhardy Road in a meadow full of Douglas iris. Now open only by special permit, the road consisted of two bare tire tracks snaking up into the vast sagebrush hills. The trailhead elevation was just under 6000 feet

We began our hike around ten in the morning. Having never backpacked in the desert before, we weren't sure what to expect. Our visions were of Georgia O'Keeffe cow skulls bleaching in alkali flats while scorpions and rattlesnakes slithered into our sleeping bags. The Sons of the Pioneers, Edward Abbey, and common sense ordained that water would be of vital importance, so we each carried a spare quart. As it turned out, we would find plenty of runoff from the April snows that still clung to the north face of the highest ridges, gurgling through the aspen groves of the deep canyons and feeding Rock Creek and the grassy meadowlands surrounding Barnhardy.

We followed the road south into a gully and immediately encountered an aspen grove with a stream trickling through. Continuing to climb up and over a hill, we consulted the GPS for a trail junction we had entered as a waypoint from the map. Exactly where the GPS indicated the trail should be, we found a jeep road climbing west toward the high divide, so we followed it. As we climbed, the sage grew sparse and gave way to tundra of short bunchgrass and lichen-painted volcanic rock. With another hour's hiking, we attained a bald saddle in the divide ridge at almost 7000 feet, where we decided to stop for lunch. A few hundred feet further south along the ridge, at the bottom of a shallow swale, a small snowfield beckoned, and we knew that if all else failed, we could camp there and melt snow for water.

As we munched our apple chips and cheese sticks, we looked through the binoculars. The stone bathhouse squatted in the alkaline clearing at the Hot Springs Campground whence we had started. We had hiked for half a day and could still see the bright gleam of sun off our van's windshield. Distances were tricky in this vast treeless wilderness. The landscape seemed a wasteland--barren, parched, inhospitable, and more than a little frightening. In the distance to the east, the green slash of Rock Creek ran down the massive sage-covered plateau toward the Catlow Valley. Beyond that rose the Catlow Rim, the next fault scarp in a procession of fractured, tilted blocks of crust. North of that we saw on the horizon a hallucinatory white smudge which may have been the snows of distant Steens Mountain.

The spur road continued northwest to a higher plateau which, in a mile or two, would attain the western edge of the forty-mile-wide block of crust, providing a view down the scarp to Hart Lake and Plush more than 3000 feet below. Instead of following the road, we dropped down the saddle to the snow patch, confirmed it was not a mirage, then descended west off-trail into what we believed to be the northern-most reaches of DeGarmo Canyon. For the next four days we would wander beyond sight or sound of any other humans.

We cross-countried down the steep slope toward a slash of green at the bottom of the gully, where we were delighted to find a puddle of water. Not much, but encouraging. Then, a little father down, a rivulet surfaced for a few feet before again sinking underground in a patch of grass and stunted corn lilies. As we followed the stream bed down the ravine, the water began to flow more frequently. At the bottom, our spur gully emptied into the larger North Fork of DeGarmo Canyon in a comforting green sward of wet meadow, through which our stream surfaced for good to feed a beautiful little creek. Contouring left above the marsh, we hiked a quarter mile up the creek to a sparse grove of aspen at 6800 feet. Corn lilies and something akin to mule ears with bight yellow flowers sprouted along the creek, and the thick riparian bunchgrass was spangled with shooting stars and larkspur. We decided to spend our first night there.

We searched our little oasis for signs of an old campsite. No fire rings were to be found, no patches of ground cleared for a tent site, no rusting soup cans nor beer bottle caps, no plastic bags nor hanks of polypropylene rope. No sign was evident of humans at all, except, far up the canyon to the east, what appeared to be an abandoned line of barbed-wire fence.

So we built our own campsite in a flat area away from the creek. We carried rocks up from the steam, dug away the turf, built a small fire ring, and cleared fallen aspen branches away for the tent. As we worked, we were harassed by bird activity in the nearby trees. A red-tailed hawk flitted from tree to tree emitting piercing cries. Barbara spotted its nest in an aspen a few trees away from our tent site. The hawk was obviously not pleased with our company. "Get over it," I called, and after a while the bird did, sneaking in and out of its nest from the far side when he thought we weren't looking. A few mosquitoes visited us in the evening, but nothing a little bug juice couldn't handle. Not a cloud menaced our outing.

After dinner we explored our new neighborhood. Something was odd. Even by high desert standards, the vegetation seemed unusually sparse. We kept stumbling over blackened stumps of sagebrush in the thick grass and low sage and found charred aspen branches partially buried under new ground cover. A sagebrush fire had apparently raged through the canyon not too long ago, killing a few of the shorter aspens and the lower limbs of the taller ones. The marvel was how the vegetation was renewing itself.

On Wednesday we had to slap a few mosquitoes as we drank our hot morning beverages leaning against an aspen log beside the burbling creek. A few small birds flitted in the scrub after our hawk had sneaked out the back door of its nest. The sun rose quickly in another cloudless sky, and the mosquitoes went away.

"Where do they go?" I asked.


"The mosquitoes. When there's no blood to suck."

The sage-covered hills replied with a vast, peaceful silence, an intimation that all mysteries had an ordinary answer, all things have their place.

Midmorning we zipped up our tent and began a march down DeGarmo Canyon, contouring high on game trails as our little stream on the canyon floor fell away. We stumbled occasionally on blackened stumps of burned sage hiding beneath the new growth. A half mile below our camp we passed above two magnificent ponderosa pines flanking a lush narrow meadow along the stream. Occasionally an outcropping of gnarly volcanic bedrock pierced the pale green slopes. Before long we could see in the distance a vertical notch at the bottom of a vee-shaped gorge, through which the North and South Forks of DeGarmo Canyon spill into the valley below. As we rounded each vertical ridge, circling ever leftward, new vistas were revealed, dispelling the myth of "not much out here but sagebrush." Ponderosa pines and junipers began to dot the steep slope, and then cluster together in small groves. Yellow aspen, willows, riparian brush, and grasses choked the creek, which grew in size and turbulence as springs and seeps fed it from beneath green slashes in the canyon walls.

Our canyon circled southwest, then south, where it would join the South Fork of DeGarmo Canyon near the western notch. We did not make it as far as the confluence, but stopped for lunch at a good campsite in a lush pocket forest of ponderosa pine, juniper, and aspen with its own little stream running through and great views through the gorge. Out across the valley floor lay Hart Lake, Plush, and the snowy Warner Mountains in the distance. After lunch we explored the area and found a distinct trail and another good campsite a little farther along. We contemplated climbing up the forested gully and dry slope above to the crest, then following the GPS across the plateau and back down to our campsite. But the climb of at least 500 feet would be taxing, hot, and dry, and the unseen route uncertain. This was our first trip of the year, and we were weary from the hike in. So we decided to go back the way we had come.

On our return we found a use or game trail of sorts leading down to a campsite under the twin pines. The fire in that part of the canyon had left a lot of burned branches to step over. On the hike up to our campsite we spotted two antelope high above in the sage.

After dinner we took a walk toward a large aspen grove above our campsite and saw a single antelope running along the ridge above us. This was calving season, and the females are often seen protecting their calves. We backed off, not wanting to scare her. Later we saw her standing and watching us for long periods. It was great to have the fancy new Pentax binoculars to bring out her intricate black-and-white markings. Back at camp a pair of western kingbirds were arguing about where to build their nest, fluttering from tree to tree above our campsite, oblivious to our presence. We also saw mountain bluebirds, house finches, and lesser goldfinches.

Thursday morning we meditated leaning against our aspen log. The stream gurgled. A mosquito whined. I composed my current Death Poem (better years too early than a moment too late): Aspens tremble, kingbirds shit on our tent. All is well.

We said goodbye to the watchful antelope and ascended southeast up the North Fork of DeGarmo Canyon, circling counter-clockwise around a flat-topped mesa of eroded rimrock. As we climbed, the stream disappeared into a broad wet meadow of bunchgrass. Across the meadow to the south, at the base of the flank rising toward the snowy slope of Mt. Warner, stood the large aspen grove where our antelope made its home. The meadow was too soft and mushy to cross. A faint path skirted the north margin of meadow and passed through an open gate in an old barbed-wire fence, apparently no longer maintained. The path petered out as the meadow gave way to thick sage brush, but we continued to climb gently to the saddle. There we had to climb the exposed rimrock through a striking stand of curly leaf mountain mahogany to the rim. At 7000 feet the rimrock dropped off abruptly, and the Barnhardy valley lay spread out before us.

Maybe camping beside the stream in the aspens had awakened something in our cellular memories. Or perhaps the sage had whispered its secrets as we slept. But somehow the treeless landscape had lost its menace and now began to make sense. It was as if the clothing had been torn off, revealing the flesh of sage-covered hills, freckled with the darker green of a few junipers, and the bones of ancient lava flows poking through where water and ice had cut canyons. On the flat rimrock crests of a few surrounding mesas mountain mahogany grew in patches like tight brown crewcuts. In the vees of the deeper canyons, between the legs of silver-gray sage, grew pubic groves of yellow-green aspen. There we would find our water.

On the valley floor we could see segments of the Barnhardy Road as it wound through the pale sage hills and slashed across a lush green sward directly below us. Beyond, the meadow sloped down a swale to join Rock Creek. Through the binoculars Barbara caught a glimpse of an old building in a grove of aspen near the road. We decided to spend the night at Barnhardy. Ah, but whither lies that elusive "Barnhardy"? The map showed it somewhere between the road and Rock Creek, but nothing was evident from our vantage. We would drop down to the valley, by god, and find it.

The hundred-foot scrabble down the rimrock face would have been slow and difficult in any case, but with backpacks, it was treacherous. Loose stones slipped out beneath our boots and clattered down the rock slope. When at last we reached the sage-covered alluvial fan, the descent became easier, but was still steep and occasionally interrupted by gnarly bedrock extrusions we had to climb around. We contoured carefully southward toward a gully, where we encountered a rivulet, the beginning of a stream, then followed the trickle down to an aspen grove reaching all the way down to the Barnhardy Road.

The structure we had seen from the ridge was a shack squatting in the aspen grove at the edge of a marshy meadow. We wanted to investigate, but the meadow was too muddy to cross, so we skirted around to the road. To the left, the road led back to our van. To the right, it dropped through a wet swale before climbing the ridge toward Warner Peak and its snowfield. We turned right.

Water! The swale was awash with water. It sheeted across the road so that we had to walk single file along a high rut and leap a stream to keep from getting our boots wet. Surely the ranger at the visitor center--the one who was not an interpretive ranger--knew how much water was out here. But he refused to tell us. Good for him! Ours had become a journey of discovery and was the sweeter for it.

We were in quest of Barnhardy, which the map told us lay somewhere across the road. But where? It had to be near water, probably on a stream feeding Rock Creek below. As we hiked along the road toward Warner Peak, I made a few sorties into the brush looking for signs of Barnhardy, but to no avail. No farmhouse. No windmill. No barn. No corral. No road. Surely Barnhardy would become evident farther up the road.

After hiking another mile to a place where two creeks poured across the road, we suspended our search for Barnhardy and decided to camp in a thick aspen grove just beyond the creek crossings. We cleared a flat area for the tent, dug a small hole for a fire pit, and lined it with rocks lugged in from the road. This shady grove was much denser and wetter than our first campsite. Yet beyond its verdant shore, the dry sagebrush stretched far and away to the horizon.

After setting up camp we stood back to admire the view, especially the rounded mound of Warner Peak, its snowfield grinning at us like an idiot clown. Barbara noticed a nest in the tree above our tent. Perhaps another red-tailed hawk? Hoisting her new binoculars, she kept watch to see what, if anything, was nesting there. After a while she discerned a head and two very long ears. Large, round eyes seemed to watch us over the rim of the nest. That night we heard hooting and knew for sure we were camping with a long-eared owl.

Friday was our day to hike out. We filled in our fire pit and dispersed the rocks to leave no trace of our passing. We took down the tent, loaded up our packs, and began the four-mile hike along the Barnhardy Road back to the van. The walk through the sea of silver sage, dotted with green rabbitbrush, was exhilarating. Out packs, lighter by 18 meals and two extra quarts of water, felt buoyant. Prolific wildflowers grew along the way. The sky was clear blue, the air fragrant with sage and juniper. An occasional mosquito whined in from that unnamed mosquito limbo to spice the stew.

We passed the alder grove we had followed down from the DeGarmo Canyon divide, passed the abandoned shack in the green sward of meadow, and crossed the wet swale oozing down toward Rock Creek. Our road did not pass through the steep, rocky canyon cut by Rock Creek on its course to Hot Springs Campground, but climbed the hill to the west. At the saddle we passed the fork we had taken on the way in, when we were different people, dropped through the little gully with its stream and alders, and soon saw the sun glinting off the van windshield more than a mile below.

We threw our gear on the bed of the van, to be sorted out later, and motored the short quarter-mile to the hot spring bathhouse. No one was there--not surprising in the mid-day heat. We rummaged for clean clothes, doffed our sweaty ones, and clambered down the iron ladder into the bubbling mineral water. Ah, the luxury of a hot soak at the end of the trail! Never have weary muscles so rejoiced.

At the headquarters, as we unposted our back-country permit as Lazarus might have done on his return, we encountered the head ranger. "Ah, so you're the ones," he said cheerfully. "In another day we would have come looking for you."

We asked the whereabouts of Barnhardy, and he took us into his office and pointed to a topo map that covered an entire wall. The matrix of thin lines was overwhelming, disorienting, incomprehensible after so much sagebrush. Turning from it, I asked specifically where Barnhardy was in relation to that shack in the meadow beside the road.

"That shack," he informed us, "that was Barnhardy."

On to the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge

We were bound for the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in northwestern Nevada, where we had spent a pleasant couple of days car camping two years ago while my hip recuperated. We considered only briefly the head ranger's recommendation that we take the scenic route to French Glen, then south through Fields to Highway 140 near Denio. Having gone that way once before, having driven the van through a herd of cattle headed up by horsemen and busting a tire north of Fields, we knew the road to be unpaved, long, and slow. We were now on the downslope of our vacation with only two more days to get home.

So we retraced the gravel road down the escarpment southwest to Plush, then turned south to follow the graben to Adel. The towering scarps closed in on both the east and west until we emerged into the Crump Lake valley and Hart Mountain began to recede behind us. At Adel, we headed east on Highway 140 through a pass in the Warner Mountains, dropped into the Guano Valley, and climbed Antelope Butte onto the vast high desert plateau again. Ten miles past the Nevada line we crested a ridge and saw Big Spring Reservoir below us nestled beneath the copper-colored castle of Big Spring Butte.

Our old campsite was empty, so we set up our stove and chairs, emptied the bed of the van, and deployed our Traveling Van Buddha smartly on the Orange Wonder table. Not many people were around. The lake had dropped, receding far from our camp on the shallow lake floor. We spotted a marsh hawk in the reeds by the water, much farther away than last time. No fledglings crashed through the brush to amuse us. The chicks probably had not yet hatched.

On our evening stroll along the lake shore we saw avocets and herring gulls. Then Barbara noticed that something was kicking up an enormous cloud of dust across the lake. With the binoculars we observed wild horses frolicking on the shore perhaps a mile away. A constant stream of newcomers galloped down from the hills to join them. Back at camp we set up the spotting scope and watched the horses romp. We counted more than 100 of them rolling, splashing, and galloping around in the throes of some primordial mating rut. Neither of us had ever seen anything like it before. We watched until it grew dark. Mosquitos were not too bad, but we went to bed early, then woke up to watch the red crescent moon setting. We saw only two other campers at Big Spring.

Morning at Big Spring was leisurely and peaceful. Before packing up, we watched a butterfly patiently explore the green cap of a plastic orange juice bottle on the table. What was it finding? Were its discoveries any less than ours?

We followed Big Spring Creek down the valley to the Dufurrena Ponds, drove past the refuge sub-headquarters, then followed a gravel road another mile to Virgin Valley campground for a swim and a shower. The pool was large and the water cool, but not cold. Children splashed in the shallows while parents watched. Inside the private bathhouse, two shower heads constantly sprayed the inexhaustible supply of natural hot water. No valves had been installed to turn them off.

The campground was surprisingly tidy. Something sinister had been swept away. Frightening figures no longer lurked among rundown trailers. Sylvia, the campground host, apparently made the difference. The locals have formed a historical society, cleaned up the place, and plan to restore the sandstone block armory as a museum. We made a small cash donation to the project. I wanted to take something home for our neighbor Mark, who is a rockhound. Sylvia gave us several chunks of petrified wood with black fire opal which she had found abandoned by rockhounds passing through.

We asked her about the shortcut through the refuge to Cedarville, and Sylvia told us the gravel roads are fine. She goes that way all the time. She recommended turning right on Road 34A, the scenic route. We backtracked on paved Highway 140, then turned south into the desert on gravel Road 8A. When we arrived at Road 34A, we turned right, as Sylvia recommended. The road immediately grew narrow and rocky and began to climb. Our speed dropped from 25 mph to 10. We still had a long way to go to get home. After a half mile, we managed to turn the van around, returned to Road 8A, and continued on the better road to Cedarville.

We stopped for lunch at a place called Fish Spring Campground. There was nothing there. No fish. No spring. No shade. No people. Just a sign, a wire corral, and an empty loop of road beside a tinge of green on the edge of a barren alkali flat in a sea of desert sagebrush. The only sound was the wind. Barbara was uncomfortable stopping the engine. What if we couldn't get it started again? Out here, without water, where nobody came along for days at a time, a mechanical failure could be life threatening.

"Nothing's going to go wrong," I assured her stuffily and ate a cheese stick.

The engine started with a cough. Road 8A led us down off the plateau into the Surprise Valley, then became paved Route 299 when we crossed into California. The high peaks of the Warner Mountains were deep in snow. We passed through Cedarville, the Cedar Pass, and Alturas, then followed the Pitt River west. Near Burney we cut south on Highway 89 to spend our last night at Hat Creek.

From Hat Creek the drive was easy. We breezed through the valley heat of Redding with the van's air conditioner running full blast, enjoying the cool air pumping out of the vents on such a hot day. Somewhere along the Trinity River Barbara suddenly reached over and punched off the air conditioning.

"Wha's'a'matter?" I asked.

"The temperature gauge is reading high."

"Oh . . . good work. Keep an eye on it."

Not a minute passed before the needle jumped to the top of the gauge and steam began to ooze through the vents with an aroma of hot antifreeze.

"Pull over!" I yelled.



We rounded a right-hand curve and a long, broad, gravel pullout appeared on the left between the road and the river. Barbara wheeled the van across the oncoming lanes, slid to a stop in the gravel, and switched off the motor. Stunned, we sat in the rising heat and watched steam pour out from under the hood.

We opened the hood and waited for the motor to cool down. An occasional car whizzed by. Below the ledge the Trinity River surged down its gorge. On the other side of the road towered a sheer rock cliff. A small rivulet trickled down its face. The noonday sun blazed down. We had no shade. Our cell phone didn't work in the mountainous terrain

While I stared uncomprehendingly at the greasy motor, Barbara pushed through the brush and poison oak and began filling the jugs from the water trickling down the face of the cliff. When both jugs were finally full, we readied the van. I topped off the radiator and jumped into the driver's seat. Barbara stowed the water. The engine roared to life and we spun onto the highway. After a mile the temperature gage began to rise. In another half mile it was over half-way up. I pulled the van off at a short pullout on the right, and again we waited in the breezeless heat for the engine to cool down so we could refill the radiator.

We finally made it to Cedar Flat and talked a young kayaker couple into driving us to Willow Creek so we could get a tow truck. They said they were low on gas. Indeed, their car ran out on the long incline just short of Willow Creek. We hiked with the young man the last quarter mile or so discussing probability theory and took our leave at Buddy's Towing.

The problem turned out to be a hole in the upper radiator hose. And the radiator was shot. The God of Deferred Maintenance can be wrathful. In tribute, we replaced the radiator, all belts, hoses, plugs, and wires, and had the rear brakes redone.

What had we learned? For one thing, we had dodged a bullet out in the high desert. For another, the desert is not the barren wasteland we had supposed. Were we reborn in the desert? Of course. Does enlightenment last? No. As Omar Khayyam says, the moving finger, having writ, moves on. The fat lady never stops singing.

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