Offsite complete, re-entry, hiatus

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:

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: JMT slide show
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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.

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7 Responses to “Offsite complete, re-entry, hiatus”

  1. Marcelo Calbucci Says:

    Welcome back Peter. It sounds like an amazing experience.


  2. Bill Gascoyne Says:

    Nice slideshow. Some last letters missing on the text; you may need a space after the last letter to clear it up, but I like the font and the text wipe feature. A number of familiar scenes (Lou Beverly, Muir hut, swinging bridge).

    You sure seem to like switchbacks! Too bad Kearsarge doesn’t have any on the west side. 😉


  3. Christine Says:


    Thank you for the nice note about my mom, Patt. She truly enjoys working with the backpackers and identifies with them, having done 100 mile & 100K backpacks for the American Lung Association. I enjoyed your slide show, especially not being a backpacker – it gave me a real sense of what Mother talks about. I would love to have copies of the 3 MTR pics for my MTR collection.

    Just a note – she is only 81.


    • Peter Zaballos Says:

      Christine, thanks so much for your comments, and my apologies for getting your mother’s age wrong! I will email you separately with the photos, and please pass along my very warmest greetings to your mother for me too!


  4. Sally Mcdonald Says:

    fantastic trip, fantastic pics and great technology too. (i’ve been using it myself since seeing this). Good luck on re-entry hiatus. As you now, we’re always here when you’re ready.


  5. Dave McNamara Says:

    Great slide show and the photos brought back memories of this trip and meeting you and past trips I have taken (one over Bishop and Muir pass and on to Florence lake and another over Kearsarge and Glen pass and down Woods creek to Cedar Grove.) It was nice meeting you on multiple days this trip and I loved the picture of the “Golden Staircase” and you looking down on me and two of the three people with whom I was hiking. I look forward to having a beer with you this weekend in Wisconsin.

    I also enjoyed Ryan’s comments. He was true to his word when he told Tad, who gave him a pack of lifesavers, that it made his day and he would note it in his journal.


  6. Patty Donald Says:

    Hey Stranger,
    I can see the Teenage you in your pictures, but your hair’s too short . What fantastic Trip. Your photography is spectacular. What an adventure in self and sprit, congratulations! Sure broought back memories of Sierra Club service trips to Silver Pass and trail maintenance and construction.. Makes me realize I really need a sierra fix soon. Thank-you for sharing and teaching me about this great program which I too will use in the future. If you are near Berkeley and want to spring byt the Berkeley marina, it would be great to see you.


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