Trip date: Oct 13, 2019
Caltopo map here: https://caltopo.com/m/LNN1
Once I reached the divide I headed north towards Jasper Peak.
The views looking north from Jasper Peak are spectacular with excellent views of the first half of the LIGANN traverse (background).
After tagging Jasper Peak I headed south towards Devil's Thumb Pass, 1.6 miles away. From a previous trip, I knew there was a trail heading back towards the Hessie Trailhead from here. It had been several years since I'd been there but I didn't remember anything complicated about it.
According to the USGS 7.5' map I had with me the Devil's Thumb Pass Trail dropped dead east of the pass. It seemed like a stupid place for a trail but the main thing I was thinking was that it was now impassable because of the snow. I certainly didn't remember the trail being the steep but that was several years prior. The sun was about to set and it was already about 20 degrees. Ordinarily these conditions would be trivial, even if I had to cowboy camp right on the divide but I didn't have a sleeping bag. I was already pretty tired at this point and I started to freak out a bit.
I needed to calm down so I decided to just sit down and think. I took my contacts out and put my glasses on and get my headlight out to read the map again. At this point I noticed that my vision was blurry and I genuinely started to panic. I'd had some brief- but bizarre- neck/neuro issues earlier in the summer that caused me to cancel my plans for the Wind River High Route in late August as a precaution. Now I thought it was back and serious. My eyes are pretty bad anyway (without glasses) and this seemed like a disaster.
I ran back up towards UN 12,640' and headed north. It seemed that the gentle slopes near Upper Storm Lake would be the easiest descent in the dark. After hurrying up several hundred vertical feet and breathing heavily, I realized something...
My glasses were dirty. My headlight batteries were almost dead...
Navigating the section between Upper/Lower Storm Lake was not trivial, but was at least mosty straightforward in the dark. lI didn't laugh about my "panic" until I'd rejoined the Devil's Thumb trail below Jasper Lake.
Once I got back home I checked a different map. The trail had been moved probably decades ago....