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The High Sierras: Day 5

This day was pretty much anxious waiting and hoping.  I stayed in town where there was cell phone service, in case he tried to call while my parents spent the day at the trail head.  


I kept by the phone pretty much all day and rested.  Then around 7 PM my mom called & my brother had arrived back to the trail.  He looked scratched up but fine.  He had gotten lost on one of his first nights in and followed an animal trail.  His trips had all the ear marks of a spirit journey with hallucinations.  He also saw a bear -which looked him straight in the eyes and then walked away.  He used his wilderness survival class skills.  Eventually he found a bear trail which led him over the pass and to the lakes we had camped near.  However this was after we had left.  He then followed our same trail back.   

The footprints I found may have been his from his first night.  After that we all got cleaned up and went out for pizza.  It was amazing.  


The High Sierras: Day 4

I felt energized when I woke up.  We ate our oatmeal & packed up camp quickly.  I converted all the nervous energy about my missing brother, I put into hiking.  I was practically running on the trail whenever it was flat and sandy.  I slowed down when it got steep just out of respect for how far out in the woods we were and how hard it would be to get out on a sprained ankle.  We stopped briefly every so often for water or snacks.  For lunch we had bagels with these tiny packets of peanut butter & honey.  We were dropping altitude so my appetite was starting to come back.  That lunch was absolute heaven.

I was so determined to get out, I didn’t notice pain until about mile 8.  My knees finally got painful then.  I made up a chant to distract myself.  Then I fund something that made me really happy.  I was off-trail when I noticed an animal path.  On it were foot prints.  The shoes looked about my brothers size and when I tried stepping in them, the gait felt sort of like his.  I followed this to the main trail where my parents were resting. I showed them.  

We’d felt all the time out there like we were the only people in the woods.  These were the first human footprints we’d seen since starting out.  The foot prints had turned off the animal trail onto our path heading towards the trailhead.  I felt renewed energy whenever I noticed one of those foot prints.  I thought to myself, “Humans really are predatory creatures.  We have these natural bursts of energy that come from tracking.”  

Another mile in and the foot prints went off route onto another animal trail.  I was in serious pain at this point  but I wanted to follow the track to see if it really was my brother.  My parents argued against this plan & it later became apparent that it would not have been a good idea.  But I am getting ahead of the story.

We hiked into the trailhead right at sunset.  We found that parked next to our car was my brother’s car!  It had nearly as many pine needles as ours did -meaning he had been out for days.  I felt tears forming in my eyes again.  I had pushed myself very hard and exceeded expectations only to find that my brother was still out there somewhere.  

The High Sierras: Day 3

Day 3 was a zero day.  This meant a day in which we complete zero miles.  I adore zero days.  We made huevos rancheros for breakfast.  I sipped some green tea first just to test how my stomach was doing.  The tea tasted great.  The eggs tasted heavenly.
After breakfast, I decided to have a swim in the lake.  I climbed out to a rock and stepped cautiously in.  It was cold!  I waded in up to mid-calf.  Then I just jumped in.  I swam a little bit.  It was very refreshing after how dusty the trail had been.  I changed into my clean change of clothes and curled up with a book.  For lunch, I snacked on some trail mix.  My dad had been hiking around the ridge, exploring and calling for my brother who had not joined us the night before as planned… Read more…

The High Sierras: Day 2

We awoke at dawn.  This feels very intuitive to do out in the wilderness.  We broke camp quickly & got our food down from the tree.  I’m sort of glad my dad was dealing with that.  It looked complicated.
We hiked to the first creek crossing and stopped for breakfast.  I was definitely ready for coffee.  Over a tiny stove, we boiled water for oatmeal.  I was feeling the altitude so I ate & sipped my coffee cautiously.  My mood was fairly hopeful at this point.  I was feeling overall weak from altitude but hadn’t had any problems with my knees or legs.  I definitely felt benefitted from the training.  I reminded myself that last summer it had been mile 3 where my knees fell apart.
 I figured that if we hiked slowly that my brother might catch up with us during the day while we were on the trail.  During the walk my hopes started to fall apart.  It became apparent that there were multiple routes to get the lake.  There were also trails that had been made by animals.  The other problem was that after the creek we stopped at for breakfast, we couldn’t find any water sources.  We had a lot of water between us but I was worried about how my brother would do.

The High Sierras: Day 1

Our trip began in luxury.  Tired from caving, we opted to sleep in a motel.  I adore motels.  I woke up in a comfortable bed.  I also had the joy of unwrapping one of those tiny squares of soap to clean up with before the trip.  It was lovely.
 I made a waffle from the machine out front.  But before I knew it, we finished with breakfast. That meant we were on our way.  We picked up our wilderness permit and drove to the trailhead.  My brother chose to visit high school friends and meet up with us Day 2.  My vote had been for my parents & me to wait and all start together.  But I was voted down.  This meant I was entering the woods with a certain amount of anxiety & irritation to begin with.  I don’t like splitting up groups in the woods.  It feels too horror-genre-esque.  My brother will always be my baby brother even if he has taken wilderness survival classes and survived a tour of duty in the military.

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Adventures Under the Earth

The first part of our trip we car-camped, we hiked & we caved.   The photo below is a picture of me taken by my dad.  The rest are mine.Image  Note the classic cave entrance belowImageI challenged myself physically & emotionally during this part of the trip.  We camped near some other nature enthusiasts; some close to my age.   Read more…


We Leave Tomorrow

We leave tomorrow

A picture I took a few months ago during a run/walk training session at the park.

The annual family backpack trip is something I train for all year. Its in the back of my mind every time I go for a walk at the park or head to the gym. The difficulty level my dad plans it at is partly due to how hard I have been training. This year, I’m part-honored & part-panicking that it will be our most demanding trip yet as a family.

Read more…


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