We three set off separately but joined together again at what appeared to be a dangerus ford of Register Creek. Chuck and I waded up to our crotches in the cold, swift water while Lenny danced across some rocks that normally would be above the water line. I guess Chuck and I felt too nervous to walk the rocks so close to the edge where there were waterfalls and rapids and logs.
We continued to descend for about 7 more miles. At one point the Tuolumne River was flowing over the trail and we had to climb over rocks and boulders to get around. At that point Lenny said he suddenly felt how mentally exhausting the Sierras had been and what he'd really like is to finish the hike as quickly as possible and go home.
Later we stopped to eat and rest at the trail junction with our trail to Pate Valley. CHuck realized he could not find a green bag of his. I realized I had lost my sunglasses. And Lenny had lost his resolve. Quite a sorry bunch we had become.
Chuck decided his green bag wasn't important and we all headed up the valley. The climb was relentless. It was 3 or 4 thousand feet up. I felt awful the whole way. Sick to my stomach and weak.
Almost to the next trail junction I saw a bear about 20 feet off the trail standing next to a dead deer carcass. He looked up at me. I reached for my camera and by the time I looked back at him he had moved away another 20 feet. I snapped a picture as he stared at me. He was a lovely golden brown. As I walked away, I took a few more pictures.
We all gathered again at the trail junction. It was about 2pm. Chuck realized that his green bag had a lot of important things after all. He set off back down all the way to the Tuolumne River again, all the way back to where the water had flown over the trail and we had had to climb over the rocks. Lenny and I stayed and made camp at the junction, shooting the breeze and enjoying just being out there in the wilds.
After about 5 hours, CHuck returned victorious with his green bag which included his wallet, cellphone, passport, credit cards and deet.
Weather had improved greatly. It had been sunny and warm all day with clouds forming but no rain.