Thursday, August 6, 2015

Sierra's Backpack Trip 2015

Took my Son Dayton and his buddy Aiden and my good friend Ben on a backpacking trip up to Thousand Island Lakes which is one of hundreds of beautiful back country lakes in the Eastern Sierra's. It was long awaited and anticipated trip as I've been waiting for my li'l man to reach an age(13) where he'd be strong enough to make the trip. It's a pretty grueling Ten Mile hike up from the trail head at Agnew Meadows to the Lake which hovers just over 10,000 feet. A trip like this can definitely challenge you physically and mentally and really teach a lesson in patience and resilience. Altitude, weather, physical strength, will power and the ability to pack light and just bring the necessities are all in play when camping off the grid. The pay-off is being out in the wilderness, away from people, cell phones, electricity, grocery stores, bathrooms showers and all the modern conveniences that keep us fat and happy. This something I was delighted to introduce to my Son.
So we get there Saturday after driving all night from San Diego, got our wilderness passes, and headed up to Mammoth Lakes where we spent the day fishing at one of the many tourist lakes in town. There were literally hundreds of people fishing, boating, swimming, and relaxing around the lake. It was pretty but it also strengthened our resolve to get the heck out of there and hit the trail. We decided to stay overnight in one of the campsites near the trail head so we could adjust to the altitude. There is a very predictable headache many get when going from Sea level to 9K feet. It's like a gnawing, throbbing knot usually in the upper front part of your head and is quite a nuisance. It usually goes away the next morning as the body adjusts. We get to our campsite and were immediately greeted with a heavy downpour(weather report issued a 20% chance of rain in the area which usually means it's gonna f'ing rain). We get up, a bit soggy but excited to hit the trail. In our rush to get going we forgot to eat. This turned out to be a bad idea, Two 13 year olds and two 40 something year old Men about to climb a few thousand feet up on an empty stomach. What could go wrong? So we saddle-up, the adrenaline and dopamine high, and hit the trail. About 200 yards in, my parked car still in sight, I look back to see if everyone is on course. I noticed Aiden, 1 of our teen hikers, is back a few hundred feet sitting on a log, pale as a ghost, slumped down and looking pretty bad. He said he was dizzy and nausious and couldn't stand up. We eventually put 2 and 2 together and realized we hadn't eaten since the night before. We throw the bags down and start digging through to our Bear Boxes to find something he could eat. The first thing that came out was this spicy Slim Jim. Bad idea, Aiden takes a bite and immediately starts dry heaving. Not a good idea to give a greasy, processed, salty meat product to a sick kid. Next comes a Granola Bar, worked a bit better but still no sign of improvement. So we sit for another 10 minutes, trying to balance our desire to get up the mountain with being a responsible adult. "Should we just make him rough it? "what if we get a few miles in and he passes out?" "How would we get him back to the car if he needed medical attention"? For some strange reason, a stronger voice hit us. "This ain't my kid and I'm not taking a chance". "Let's maybe hang out a bit, get some food in us and then try again later". To our surprise, that logical voice ended up working out pretty nice. We headed back to the car, went to a little lake a few miles away and fished for a few hours, cooked some Ramen, and by Noon were all ready to try again. From there everything was just awesome. The trail up was Brutal, there were some tears, lots of rests, some unhappiness with the weight of our packs, blisters, a few times we almost had a mutiny within the ranks. After about 4 hours, we made it. Life from there on was pretty near perfect. 2 full days of fishing, caught and ate many Trout. Took day hikes, jumped around on boulders, discovered new lakes, ate lots of Mountain house, Ramen, labored over pumping water, and spent a unusual amount of time talking about pooping in the woods. It's quite an art form and everyone seems to have an opinion on how best to go about it.
It was a fabulous trip and and I look forward to many more.


Anonymous said...

Great story and great pics Sandy. Thanks!
Turner Huffaker

Evelyn said...

It's been a long time since you took my photo for Alliant University (I use it for my LinkedIn image). Thought I'd check out your photo journal. This one brought back many great memories of the High Sierras and my first backpack...Mine was also overall awesome, but with some glitches. Thanks so much for sharing. I love the photos and feel content seeing that it is still possible to re-experience the High Sierras of old and backcountry trout-fishing. Best wishes... "Still enjoying teaching ESOL"