Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blog Hoppin and Back Packin


I have only been blogging for a couple of months but my TV is collecting dust. I don't watch anything anymore. I realized that all my evenings are spent reading, writing, and hopping around finding cool blogs. I am also realizing that I cannot list every blog I like on my favorites list.

One of my most favorites is "Kathy's Dusty Trails" she is a vet and just reading about her cabin and life up in the Sierra's makes me feel so good. After all I am a native born Californian. Eight years in the south have messed up the way I talk, but pictures of California's rugged mountains stir my heart. I loved the Felton redwoods. When my daughter was little we went on several back backing trips into Mammoth. There is a wonderful hot springs spot called "Ida Bell Hot Springs" in that park. Devils Post Pile, and Rainbow Falls are there close by too. Ida Bell found a campers paradise. It isn't too bad of a hike either except for 1 and 1/2 miles of switchback trails that go straight down. I can still remember the entire trail.

We started from a base camp where they have a little eattin joint that makes a great homemade hamburger. After piggin out and loading up our packs we headed out. The first part of the trip is all down hill through shady forest and lush with ferns and soft redwood chipped earth. About mid morning when it began to get warmer we started moving up and out of the shade into some granite country. As we hiked along the edges of one mountain our first views of wide open mountain country emerged. The beauty and the silence are breath taking. I had the good fortune of being with an avid mountain climber and back packer who knew this country well. We left the trial for a bit and scooted sideways down some steep granite rocks. Hidden from view was an amazing little waterfall and rock pool. It held freezing cold water, good for a drink and to rest feet in, but way to cold for me to swim. I'm not that brave. I'm actually feeling the hike quite a bit not being a big out doors type, but the beauty is propelling me along. The country changes frequently and the diversity impresses me. We are moving through a grove of aspen trees and they seem to be winking at us with their twinkling leaves, and they play with the light, the effect is enchanting.

By midday I was really feeling the weight of my pack and wondering what the heck was so important to bring along besides food and water. Packing light was taking on a whole new meaning. I was wishing that I would've listened better. All my gear is new, this being my first trip and we are hiking 8 miles today and 4 the next. It's hot, I have stopped talking and started working and breathing. My body has never experienced this much sweat in it's lifetime' but it's so beautiful. It was a good thing that I had youth on my side because I didn't exercise much other than dancing, and this was a workout! Just when I thought I couldn't take another step we turned the corner of the mountain and looked down on Fish Creek. It was in the bottom of the canyon, we we're on the top. Between us and the place we would camp was a straight down steep trail of switchbacks. I had never heard of switch backs. My feet were in for the biggest pounding of my life. I didn't even think about coming back out. It was hard enough going down. Finally at dusk we took our packs off next to this beautiful river. It's really not a creek. I perched on top of a nice granite rock and relaxed in the water. Every muscle in my body had worked to exhaustion, and I was hungry. A steak would've been great, but we were back packing and we we're having freeze dried astronaut stuff. Yuk, but with a work out like that no one is gourmet, or picky, it's about fuel. I don't even remember falling asleep. The next morning I was so stiff, no one even suggested stretching out, what a bunch of dummies. It didn't take too long to walk before the kinks got worked out. This half day walk along the river was mostly just hiking, the view didn't change up like the first day, and I concentrated on the work. When we entered a meadow full of wild flowers blooming I thought I was in heaven. " This is it" said our guide. We had arrived. We were facing a mountain side and I could see a waterfall. "That's the cold water", and over next to it a warm water fall, hot and cold water. Impressive! What you could not see until you passed it was the hot spring pool. A deep sulfur smelling but clear to the bottom pool of hot water. After all that hiking and sweating and sore achy muscles it was paradise. I soaked for hours, coming out long enough to eat and then get back in. I soaked until my fingers shrivelled up into wrinkly prunes. When it got dark I saw the stars for the first time in my life. We don't really see stars in the city. The sky was jam packed full of them. I saw the Milky Way and the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, and we had the good fortune of having a full moon. It was a spectacular trip. A little like boot camp but wonderful. I felt strong and light when I got home again.

I did not become an avid back packer. I made a few more trips, oddly to the same place. Knowing what was waiting for me was motivation enough to take those switchbacks going down and going up. It's surprising to discover that down hill is harder. I also found out I didn't like hiking boots, running shoes worked much better for me. I finally hung them from a tree and wished somebody a nice find. A hundred dollar pair of Pivetta hiking boots. It wasn't worth it to carry them out, and I didn't want them. My second trip I packed much lighter. If I ever go back again I'll ride a pack mule.

5 comments:

Coffee Bean said...

Hey! We went to Mammoth every summer for years when we lived in CA. We always stayed at the Pumice Flat campground and got to know the old caretakers, although I can no longer remember their names. Every couple of days we went to the Devil's Postpile campground to take showers. They had natural hot spring showers there. When I was a senior in high school, my mom and I rode horses up to Rainbow Falls. The John Muir trail goes through there and we always hiked part of it, as well as many of the other hikes in that area. Shoot! I probably hiked the trail you wrote about!

Karen Deborah said...

That's stinkin cool!

Susiewearsthepants said...

What a great story. I could picture it in my mind even though I haven't been any further west than Arkansas.

Brenda said...

I have never tried backpacking. Sounds like fun though.

Laura ~Peach~ said...

beautiful....