Well, my adventure came to a rather fitting and comfortable close on Monday August 24th, at about 10:45 in the morning, when I arrived at the Onion Valley trailhead, and met my longtime friend, Miles, who graciously spirited me away to one of his relatives’ condos at Mammoth Mountain, so I could take a well deserved, and very much needed hot shower. We then spent the next eight or so hours catching up as we made our way back to San Francisco, where I caught a flight back home on Tuesday morning.
The trip was just spectacular. No disappointments really, of any kind. An enormous number of small and large pleasant surprises along the way, and a steady stream of incredibly kind and generous people I met along the trail. I ended up doing about what I had set out to do, mileage-wise (170+ miles, 60,000+ feet of climbing and descending), but had to adjust both the beginning of the trip (started a few days later than I had planned) and the end (decided not to do the 28 miles in two days to Shepherd’s Pass, and left the trail at Kearsarge Pass instead).
I began the trip with two close friends from high school (Ernie and Duane), and was able to end the trip meeting three other close friends from high school and college (Brian, Steve, and Mark)…all of whom I’ve been backpacking with in much of this same country for many years. And in between I had plenty of time on my own, some days not seeing a single person on the trail, and camping at some lakes where I was the only person there – and perhaps for many miles around. But I was never lonely, or lacking for something wonderful to look at, think about, or explore.
Two people I met really made warm and lasting impressions. The first was Patt, the 81 year-old woman who ran the Muir Trail Ranch backpacker resupply station, and whose heart was both huge and warm. She was charmed with what my thirteen year-old, Ben, wrote on the outside of my resupply package (actually a 5 gallon plastic bucket): “By opening this bucket, you hereby agree to buy your thirteen year-old son a kitten”. Ben loves cats, and she and I had a nice long laugh about his wit and seemingly foolproof plan. Ben, sorry, that contract was not binding in California.
The second was a 20 year-old Cal Poly junior, Ryan, who I crossed paths with for two days, as he was on his way to attempting the entire John Muir Trail (all 221 miles), in nine days. Ryan has maturity and ambition beyond his years, and carried a good dose of humility as well. He had failed to do this same adventure in June, went home, figured out what had gone wrong, and came back to do it again. Meaningful failure in action. He posted a comment here on my blog when he returned, letting me know he did in fact finish in nine days.
I collected a set of photos and made an online slide show of my trip (using some slick web technology from our company, Smilebox), and it should be on this side of not too long and hopefully not boring:
|Make a Smilebox slideshow|
Thanks to so many of you for your encouragement and support. I am deeply grateful I had this opportunity, and appreciated as well as valued every moment I was in the Sierras.
And as some of you may have noticed, I have changed the masthead photo, to one I took of Upper Kearsarge Lake on August 24, in the early morning. A fitting photo, and it will be nice to have this frame my blog for the coming year.
It’s been a challenging “re-entry” process getting back up to speed on life at home and work, and I wanted this post to also let you know that I will be taking a hiatus from posting here, to focus attention on these areas. I hope to resume again later in the fall.