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Returning to the Sierra after 30 years!

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Returning to the Sierra after 30 years!

Postby withoutatrace » Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:11 pm

I'm new here and I confess I've been lurking for a couple weeks, but I have to tell you I LOVE THIS PLACE! I stumbled upon this site when I found Bill Finch's trip reports "sierrahiker" site and from there D.W. Donehoo's "Sierra Trails" site, of which I have read every single trip report on each site. Having been a former resident of Merced, Atwater, and Lemoore California, (former active duty Air Force and hubby went from Air Force to the Navy) you could find me "burning up a trail" every single time I had the chance to disappear into the high country, Pt. Reyes, ANYWHERE there was one and a few where there was none, no matter what the season, but the Sierra remains my first love. But alas, that was 30 years ago and "life trails" have kept me away from the beloved wilderness for far too long--my heart aches to return, as you all I'm sure can understand. Over the year since leaving California, I moved to Alabama to take care of my mother who was dying of COPD and well, she lived for 9 years after I got here, which I will always be grateful for the time we got to spend with her in her last years. One year before her death, in 2000 my husband was tragically killed in an accident, leaving me with seven children to raise on my own ranging in age from 17 down to 3. Needless to say it's been a road of recovery for the past 10 years. I shed many a tear when I left California many years ago and I had, over the years began to believe that I might never again in my lifetime spend even a day in the beloved High Country of the Sierra. Well, recently I have yelled a resounding "Why not return?!!"

On a lighter note, my son (now 24) and I were reading this forum together the other night and laughed like crazy over the "bears and beer" info--you guys are GREAT! :nod: This prompted my son to hilariously ponder if a beer company might pay us to hike a keg up some back country trail--NOT REALLY but we laughed our heads off as we considered hauling a keg on a wagon of sorts (yeah right! lol) and considered a shot of two ppl sitting on a rock beside the trail, lungs heaving, but alas they have their nice cold <insert beer brand here>!, then another shot of a bear trying to steal the keg, and finally a shot of a couple bears sitting together with a couple humans, all enjoying a nice cold <insert beer brand here> lol. Okay, of course we aren't REALLY gonna try that! (well, my son MIGHT lol) but ya gotta admit it WOULD be a great advertising campaign! More importantly, it made for a nice time of laughter together with my son and some great memories I'm sure he and I will treasure for years to come. Thanks y'all! That night, I told him with tears streaming down my cheeks how how much it burdens my heart that none of my children have ever even laid eyes on one of the most awesome places on Earth--the Sierra. So, thanks to this site and all of you wonderful posters here, he and I have begun the preliminaries of trying to plan a trip to Kings Canyon (one of my favorite old stomping grounds) in a few years when he finishes college, IF we can save the money up lol, and we will drag the rest of any of my other children who want to come. It's been long while for me, but I am not out of shape and thanks to Bill Finch and D.W.'s trip reports and this forum, I now know that many people well into their 60's and some even 70's hike the Sierra on a regular basis, so my faith is renewed! Again, THANKS Y'ALL! Which brings me to my reason for posting all this ramble, and thanks so much for bearing with me:

I know lots of things have changed since I have been--dreaded bear canisters for one, I always hung my food and never lost food on any hike I've ever been on--okay whatever; water filtering is also new to me; of course gear has changed considerably as well--I had a Jansport backpack with an internal frame which I loved, can't remember the sleeping bag brand but it was great--not down tho, as back then the worry was if it ever got wet you were screwed, I had Rossignol X-country skii's, again they worked great for me; never used "trek poles" but I can sure see their benefit; never brought a tent except on longer trips and rarely used one, so again don't even remember what i had; mosquitoes seem to be a real problem now, so much so that I see "mosquito reports" even have a thread of it's own--don't remember them being that much of a problem back then, what's changed?; etc. etc. So, I would appreciate any and all information and wisdom you fine folks might want to share with someone such as myself who is returning to Heaven on Earth after being away so many years. I thank you all in advance and I have to say I envy the heck out of all of you being able to commune with the high country so often. One day, I too will return and rediscover the piece of myself that will, as you know, always be there. Okay, let 'er rip!



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Re: Returning to the Sierra after 30 years!

Postby oldranger » Sat Jul 31, 2010 2:02 pm

WOAT

Welcome aboard! As you've obviously already picked up there is a ton of information to be gleaned on these forums. Some of us have even forged new friendships as a result of the forums. I've no specific advice here except there are lots of places in the Sierra where bear resistant containers are not required (including a good portion of SEKI). The mosquito situation is no different than in the past--every year is different. This year was weird because of the combination of a larger than normal snowpack and a really cold late spring that delayed the snow melt.

If bucks are a big deal use your old equipment (whoops I guess I'm giving advice) if not look at some of the lightweight equipment available in packs, tents, and sleep bags etc. Lightening my load, hiking poles, staying in shape year round, plus losing 15 lbs. has kept me going into my 6th decade of backpacking (I think that is correct, I started in the late 1950's).

Taking as many in your family as you feel comfortable is a grand Idea. All my kids had overnight backpack or horsepack experience before they were a year old. Took my 2 oldest grandkids on an overnighter with their parents last year. The 9 and 8 year olds will be going with grandpa on a 1 or 2 nighter in less than two weeks up here in Central Oregon.

Your 24 year old son is the perfect age to whip into "studly" shape and carry the brunt of the load. I still couldn't keep up with my son last week down in the Sierra even though he carried the tent and most of the food. He even caught most of the fish we ate!

So look at all the online info you can find. Think about the places you want to visit. Then when you have specific questions there are a bunch of people with tons of knowledge who are happy to help.

Oh yeah don't be too sensitive if you get an occasional wiseass response. Some of us (I'm more guilty than most) can't help themselves from time to time. But then we don't take ourselves that seriously either.

Again welcome aboard!

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: Returning to the Sierra after 30 years!

Postby rlown » Sat Jul 31, 2010 2:50 pm

Welcome Aboard!

Where do you want to go or where have you been? That wasn't clear from your post, but it sounds like you've been somewhere in the Sierra before.. That would be a great start, unless you find something more interesting. If you're looking at maps, Identify the area you like and post it. Lot's of help on this forum.
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Re: Returning to the Sierra after 30 years!

Postby oldranger » Sat Jul 31, 2010 5:45 pm

WOAT

Russ reminded me that another advantage of older kids is that they can fetch snow for evening cocktails. One of the memorable refrains of a couple of weeks ago was "Matt! More Ice!"

Mike
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Re: Returning to the Sierra after 30 years!

Postby sparky » Sun Aug 01, 2010 8:53 am

Withoutatrace, I just discovered a few minutes ago, flights to Mammoth Lakes can be had for pretty cheap. I stumbled upon a web site that listed every round trip flight to Mammoth, and listed them in order of price. I was just scrolling through and saw flights from many mid western cities for under $200. The dates I was lookign for was during the week, so maybe that has something to do with it.

Just something to consider if you want to budget a trip.

Also, there is public transportation that runs up and down the east side, across Tioga Pass, and a bus that runs into Sequoia, so renting a car is not really needed.

I started looking into cheaper options, because it can cost me $250 in gas to drive up there, depending on where I go. I found out I can fly for much less if I time it right, and a train ticket is about $80.
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
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Re: Returning to the Sierra after 30 years!

Postby sierramel » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:13 am

For sure don't let the "age" thing ever worry you at all. I've lived and hard-core backpacked (now llama packing because of a REALLLLY bad back) between Yosemite and south of Mt. Whitney for more than 30 years. I've lived just a few miles south (5 miles north of the McGee Pass trail), of Mammoth Lakes since 1979.
I must say that every year that goes by I see more and more people of a "certain age", and those of us over 60 (I'm relatively young at 61) every year. I used to think it amazing, when I was in my 40's, to see such "old people" (in their 50's) still on the trail. Until I hit 50. Whoa, did my perspective change in a hurry.
20 years ago I even met an 80 year old man on top of Mt. Whitney who was finishing a two week backpacking trip with the Sierra Club.
I was out earlier this summer and noticed even more folks over 60, AND 70 (!) out pounding the trail (the JMT for the most part). They were making far better progress than me with the llama and my trashy back.
Backpackers never die, they just gradually break down and disappear.
"Some places remain unknown because no one has ventured forth. Others remain so because no one has ever come back."
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Re: Returning to the Sierra after 30 years!

Postby sierramel » Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:58 pm

...... I think I meant "they just biodegrade".
"Some places remain unknown because no one has ventured forth. Others remain so because no one has ever come back."
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Re: Returning to the Sierra after 30 years!

Postby withoutatrace » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:04 pm

Thanks all for the welcome and for the comments, really appreciate it. And thanks for the encouragement on the age thing--lol I told my son "I don't care if I have to crawl, if I'm still around in my 90's don't think I won't give it a shot--just to be there!" Thanks too sparky for that flight info, that IS really cheap!

As far as where we might go when we do get there, I've been giving some thought to that--but it will be a few years off, so no final decision yet. I have been all through Yosemite--darn near everywhere, but only my two oldest have even been there and that was when they were under 3 years old but in my opinion there's far too many people so SEKI was always my favorite. Don't know if the numbers have changed much since the late 70's early 80's and they are flooded with folks now too? I have been to quite a few places but not seen nearly enough of SEKI.

We are looking at at staying at least a week with everyone, and then my son and I possibly a month. So it is likely we will do at least two different trips--a shorter one with everyone and then a nice long one with just my son and I. Any advice on a nice 1 weeker, not too strenuous and for first timers, who will be hiking with children who will be about 3 to 5 by then-- maybe late June/early July? They all do have hiking/camping experience, just not in altitudes that are found in the Sierra. As far as the longer trip, I think just about anywhere we choose will work. I sure do appreciate all of you--I've never planned a trip like this and have never had to be the "head" so to speak of any hiking adventure--back then it was just me or occasionally one to two other adults, and only one trip with kids.
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Re: Returning to the Sierra after 30 years!

Postby rlown » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:11 pm

withoutatrace wrote:As far as where we might go when we do get there, I've been giving some thought to that--but it will be a few years off, so no final decision yet.


Um, a few years off? go now.. just pick a spot and go. It's a great year up there..

Russ
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Re: Returning to the Sierra after 30 years!

Postby maverick » Mon Aug 02, 2010 4:46 pm

Hi Withoutatrace

Welcome to HST.
Quit a story, and great to see that your passion for this beautiful range has not
diminished.
On recommending places we'll have to wait to see what the winter and spring
season brings.
This year was a higher than normal snow year so a lot of places are holding snow
about a month longer compared to last year.
20 Lakes Basin comes to mind as a good intro, especially for week long trip.
Another good intro place is Little Lakes Valley though a week might be too long
for this one, and there's the Duck Lake area.
Yes there are more people, but mainly at the organized campgrounds, and major
trails like the JMT, but even at these places one can find solitude by going off trail
a few hundred feet or heading up to an unnamed lake.
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Re: Returning to the Sierra after 30 years!

Postby sierramel » Wed Aug 04, 2010 5:10 pm

Say, Maverick... You mentioned Little Lakes Valley (out of Mosquito Flat on the Mono Pass Trail - correct?).. How about the Mono Pass Tr. to Pioneer Basin or the Fourth Recess?
OutSTANDING!
WOAT..That's about 25 miles north of Bishop, and Mono Pass (about 12 grand) is only 4 miles from the trailhead. The Fourth Recess has this HUGE waterfall at the end of the recess, and Pioneer Basin is full of meadows, small lakes and few people.
"Some places remain unknown because no one has ventured forth. Others remain so because no one has ever come back."
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Re: Returning to the Sierra after 30 years!

Postby maverick » Wed Aug 04, 2010 5:37 pm

Hi Sierramel

Yes I agree wholeheartedly those are some great place, but she did mention taking
her 3 and 5 year old along on the trip.
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