I was up at 6am ready to start the adventure I had been planning. I thought of a passage from a favorite author of mine, William Least Heat Moon:
"I thought how far I was from where and when this journey began, how I was so distant from that fellow passing for me twenty months ago, the one so eager to learn the secrets of the river passage. Could he – the me of the moment – and I sit down together, he would want to know what I knew and absorb what I had experienced, and he would regard me enviously, just as I do those men who have returned from the moon. But there would be forever a difference between him and me: I went and he did not. He set the voyage in motion, but he could not take it. ….he could never see the outcome of his preparations, unless somewhere, on some far other side, time permits us to meet our past selves, all those we have been."
I was about to pass over from the one who planned this passage to the one who undertook it. How would it change me, if at all? Would I be challenged? Would I meet interesting people. Time to find out.
It was too early for the shuttle to Crescent Meadow where the hike was officially to start, so i hiked out of Lodgepole Campground the long way in order to meet up with the High Sierra Trail
Here is an overview of the entire hike:
And here is the route I was to take on day 1
I began climbing in elevation fro the get go.
I finally reached a peak and began to descend towards the trail
This kind of upset me because all this climbing had been for naught as I was going back down to meet up with the trail . Oh Well.
I should mention here that part of the purpose of this hike was a lesson in self restraint, discipline and enjoying the journey not the destination. In hikes past I measure my success in miles and hours, not in vistas. I wanted to hike shorter days and take time to smell the proverbial flowers. I had even brought a long a book to help interpret the animals and plants I came across
In addition I brought about a John Muir classic: My First Summer in the Sierras
I should also mention that John Muir is the father of the Sierra Club and a man instrumental in getting all of this area preserved. If time his wiki page is worth the read. (John Muir Wiki). He is also the one that uttered the words that are the title of this blog
All of this was intended to help slow my roll. On the way down I ran into my first specimen, A yellow-bellied Marmot. Here is a shot from the book. And although I did not get a good picture here there was plenty to follow on subsequent days.
Below is my first sign indicating the High Sierra Trail (HST)
I was really getting into this plant identification and the guide was pretty cool. You would look at the guide and answer basic questions to send you off to different pages. Did the leaf have one vein or multiple. were the leaves coming of the stem staggered or opposites. It was a kind of choose your own adventure that sometimes led to the finish or other times was a dead end. Here is a Thimble Berry. Of course these could all be wrong but I dont like to think about that. Every time I walked by a plant I had determined I would whisper to myself, "Oh, there is your classic Thimble Berry" as if I was a naturalist pointing it out to uneducated city-folk.
I got hung up on the trail for an hour as they were blasting with dynamite. They needed to break up some rock to make the trail a bit safer.
I ran across a troop of mules carrying food up to Bearpaw Meadow. Up there is my campsite but allso a sort of camp hotel where they will put you up in large canvas tents and serve meals.
I made camp by 15:30 and just relaxed. I was carrying way too much weight! I talked to a couple who were planning on hiking for 9 days but the girl hurt her knee on day 2 and they were heading back to Sequoia National Park Visitors Center but taking their time. The weather was beautiful. Apparently a storm came through for the last week, but I got nothing but clear skies the whole time on the trip.
The next day I was on the move by 7am. The below 2 pictures show my path for the day. I was leaving BEarpaw Meadow and hiking a slow ascent up to Hamilton Lake. Once I get to Hamilton lake I had a steep climb to Kaweah Gap. From there I dropped down into the Big Arroyo Junction for the night.
Made it up to the this waterfall and went off trail to get right above it. Inorder to get back on trail I had to bushwhack through some buses which took a half hour and cut the hell out of me. I cant imagine early trail creators. It is always incredibly hard to go off trail and always a mistake.
I finally got up to Hamilton Lake. I chilled out for a bit, went swimming, laid out on a rock and contemplated the momentous hike up to the Gap and Precipice Lake
I started the climb. It was just a series of switchbacks up to the gap at 10K feet. It was a slog to be sure. My first of a few hard hikes. Near the top I got a much needed break at Precipice Lake
Below is a look back from the Gap down to Hamilton Lake where I was just 2 hours ago.
The lake on top was mighty cold. I was sitting around with another group. Only one other person went swimming with me. She actually went so far as to take her top off and jump in. I was not complaining.
I had to push on a few hundred feet to reach the actual gap and head down the other side. I should also mention here that I did not carry a map but I did download a topographical map on my phone. I only turned my phone on occasionally to check the map to see distances or elevation gains/losses up ahead. Similar to my trip to New Zealand, for some reason, even though i did not have cell phone coverage it showed a dot on the map where I was at. Not sure how that works but it was pretty helpful to see how much hiking I had to reach the next checkpoint.
I arrived at Big Arroyo Campground and found a nice spot along the river. I soaked for a bit and had a pretty early night