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Dad...

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Dad...

Postby mountaineer » Fri Apr 14, 2006 6:48 pm

Some of us were/are very fortunate to spend time in the outdoors with our dads. When older folks outhiking us younger folks became the subject of another thread, I thought it would be cool to start a thread dedicated to dads. I'll start with a few pictures but stories are great also. Of course, moms are fair game too.:)

Dad, in the late 50's on the summit of the Grand Teton...
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Dad, on the right, preparing to climb in the Bighorn Mtns. of Wyoming in the 50's...
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Here he is in more recent times at the North Fork of the Kings River on return from the Red Mtn. Basin/Devils Punchbowl area...
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On a cross country endeavour in Sequoia NP...
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Postby giantbrookie » Sat Apr 15, 2006 3:44 pm

Mountaineer. Those are some outstanding shots of your dad. I do feel mighty fortunate to have had my dad as my no.1 peak bagging partner and he was the one who really introduced me to the outdoors and the Sierra. I've been unusually lucky to have had my dad as my no. 1 climbing partner and my wife as my no. 1 fishing and beer drinking buddy.

Here's a little dedication to my dad, focusing on our Sierra days together. Of course, my dad was so much more than just a hiking partner, but this is board is about the Sierra so...

My dad first introduced me to hiking when I was 4 or 5 by taking me on short hikes in the Berkeley Hills. By the time I hit age 6 (1965) he had taken the family (mom, plus little bro, 3 years my junior) to the Sierra for the first time and we were going on a several Sierra Club hikes in the Bay Area. In 1967 he took me on my first backpack trip, or you could call that "overnight", given that I proved incapable of carrying my stuff and he simply strapped it all to his huge pack. That trip was to Pear Lake to bag Alta Peak, a peak that I believe was my first SPS listed peak. That was the start of the "tiered trip" era when he would go on ambitious Sierra Club peak bagging trips without other family members, somewhat easier trips with me, and yet easier trips with the other two family members. His trips with me began to gradually increase with difficulty, with Sawtooth and Mineral Peak for my 10th birthday in 1969 (day 1 had 4500' of elevation gain, my career high to that date) and this trend would continue until we found we couldn't outdo ourselves after the 1980 season (the Split/Prater trip noted in the "baddest passes" thread). Also in 1969 he gave me this book for Christmas: "Sequoia National Park, a Geologic Album" by Matthes, a book I treasured because it had all these nice pictures of peaks I wanted to climb. Little did I know that 32 years later, my geologic research would actually drift to Sierran geomorphology, the same subject written about in the book. Yes, it's safe to say that my dad, an electrical engineer with many interests (geology among them) was no doubt the biggest reason I became a geologist. Sometime around 1970 he took the last Sierra Club peak bagging trip without me and it was an epic race between some of the elite members of the peak bagging section. He backpacked from Zumwalt Meadow to East Lake in a stunning 4 hours, a hike that included, he recounted with a grin, a half hour lunch stop: he was 42 at the time. After besting his fellow peak baggers he then bagged Brewer and South Guard with them. My dad used to carry this immense pack that generally weighed in around 70 lbs even on a normal overnighter (to this day I still wonder about the rationale behind all the junk he stashed in there). The huge internal frame pack seemed to dwarf my dad, who was built like a fire plug, but stood only 5'3-1/2" (135lbs). He very much tried to avoid taking days off, so he seldom took a trip longer than 3 days. This made for some serious commando raid trips. By 1972 the "tiered" trip system had now become the tough trips with me and the easier trips with family, and my dad and I chose to design our trips on our own, rather than go on Sierra Club peak bagging section trips. Although he was a hiker of unusual strength and endurance he did not drive me like some military-style football coach, but was gently sympathetic and supportive, as was his general nature; he was a very gentle soul. As I grew older I gradually closed the gap in hiking strength, not so much because my dad was declining, but because I was simply growing bigger and stronger. In the meantime, my dad was getting into distance running and in his marathon debut (in his late 40's I believe) completed the 26 mi+ course (the Livermore Marathon, as I recall) in under 3 hours. The last trip we made together before I surpassed him in hiking strength was in 1978 when we did Williamson. I remember struggling to make Shepherd Pass on the first day; my dad, in contrast, seemed to be in cruise control. The next day, as a typically brash 19-year-old, I had proclaimed the desire to do both Williamson and Tyndall. After bagging Williamson we traversed the rock piles back toward Shepherd Pass, as gusts of wind nearly knocked me on my butt. The bitter cold and wind had me pretty beat. My dad, who had plenty left in the tank, yelled back to me "shall we do Tyndall now?", to which I replied with a long and plaintive "Noooooooo!". In 1979 we did arguably our best trip and one that is cemented in my memory perhaps above all others. We did Lone Pine, Irvine, Mallory, LeConte in two days, doing Lone Pine en route to Meysan Lake on day 1, then on day 2 doing Irvine, Mallory and LeConte on a glorious traverse, packing up, hiking out and driving all the way home to the SF Bay Area. On LeConte I chose to bypass the notorious "Waterfall Pitch" as it looked too wet and slimy for my tastes. Instead I did a jam crack to its left that featured much greater vertical fall potential (likely fatal) and difficulty that my have been low 5th. We had rope and I climbed the pitch unroped, then belayed my dad up (no point in belay for leader because I wouldn't fall further than bottom of pitch; we carried no additional protection)--my dad had done the same for me years earlier on some class 4 moves on other peaks. On the descent I belayed my dad down the pitch, then downclimbed unroped as my dad shouted out foothold and handhold locations as if calling out chess moves. Never once did my dad show any fear in his voice as he did not want my confidence to waver. On my part I had absolute trust in him calling out my holds. It is little wonder that I have never shown 1/10 the nerve climbing with others as I did in the days I climbed with my dad.

As the years went on my dad patiently endured my shift from peak bagger to fisherman (he was never much into fishing, but he got me my first backpacking rod at a very early age). He also had to put up with several summers that I was more interested in chasing girls than going to the Sierra. Moreover, he also had to deal with my wife becoming my no.1 Sierra partner as she did seemingly innumerable high country fishing trips a summer with me. Fortunately, my mom would nag me to devote one peak bagging trip a year to him and we had our second "golden age" or sorts from 1986-1991. Among these trips was one celebrating his 60th birthday (1988) when we hiked from the Edison Rd to Lou Beverly in 5.5 hrs (didn't realize we didn't need 4WD to reach the Bear Creek diversion dam) on day one of a 3 day Seven Gables trip. The 1991 trip was special because he completely vaporized me going into Horton Lake to do Mt. Tom. I had a cold, but was still in decent shape. I just remember thinking that he'd tire out and I'd reel him in on the next switchback, only to see him fade into the distance. My dad suffered a strokes, a massive heart attack (sextuple bypass) and other health problems, before succumbing to pancreatic cancer in early 2000. In 1992 a degenerating hip originally injured when he fell during a Mt. Goddard climb with me in 1977 exceeded even his epic pain tolerance. He was backpacking with my brother and I to Burro Lakes up very steep talus when he turned to me and said "I can't make it". This was something I had never heard from the indefatigable warrior and I refused to believe it. I almost broke down and cried. Yet, he kept clawing back. He did in fact make it to Burro Lakes and climb Excelsior and he bounced back time and again from his various health problems. The year after his heart surgery he bagged Mt. Gibbs and the next year, a year and a half before his death, he dayhiked Dicks Peak from Glen Alpine, not a bad feat for someone celebrating his 70th. After his death, my mom, brother, and I scattered his ashes in the shadow of North Peak, in the Saddlebag region that had long been his favorite; it was where he took his last Sierra trip alive in 1999. I like to think that his gentle spirit has now joined those of other past Sierran climbers and that every summer he will enjoy the sparkling skies and jagged peaks as he did for so many years.

As my age has reached that of my dad when he pulled off some of his most memorable exploits, I find myself falling short of the standard he set. I remember at the age of 42 trying to do some backpacking that would be worthy of his East Lake dash only fail miserably. He will always be my greatest hero. I have become a father at about a decade older than my dad was when he had me. If I can be half the father to my son that my dad was to me I think my son (just turned 4) will be a lucky guy. It goes without saying that I miss my dad tremendously. Of course most of the time it still feels like he's here with me, especially when I'm in our beloved Sierra.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Postby mountaineer » Sat Apr 15, 2006 8:00 pm

Wow brookie. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes after reading that tribute. Some of his favorite areas were the same as my dad's...Lou Beverly(darn it! we were tricked by that darn "4 wheel drive" road also, but just once!), and the North Peak area.

My dad was a ranger for the NPS and when I was 3 months shy of my 5th birthday he dragged me over Franklin Pass to Upper Rattlesnake Creek. I was complaining the whole way but when I saw that huge snowfield at the top I forgot how tired I was and started a snowball fight with other members of the group. When I was 6, he took me on a round trip from Courtright(when you had to park on the west side of the dam) to Post Corral Meadows, on up to Rae Lakes, over to Devils Punchbowl(my favorite lake of all time), down to North Fork and then back to Courtright. The last day from North Fork we went cross country to Courtright.

That is enough for now...thanks again brookie for your awesome story and tribute!
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Postby Rosabella » Mon Apr 17, 2006 9:44 pm

Giantbrookie, your story was so touching! I understand Mountaineer's feelings in that I would also like to share the stories of my Dad and our backpacking experiences... but not at this moment. Your story was so beautiful, and reminded me of so many of the wonderful times my Dad and I shared; I'm going to just enjoy this mood for now. Thank you, Giantbrookie for sharing!

Rosie
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