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Meeting people in the backcountry

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Postby Timberline » Mon Jan 23, 2006 2:07 pm

marksor, duuude, you need to get a website up with this stuff. You have a great gift for writing.

Right On, Buck!. Marksor, this is great stuff and makes me feel like I'm right there with ya. A high five for bringing the best of the wilderness back home to share. Thanks, buddy.
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!



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Postby giantbrookie » Mon Jan 23, 2006 3:13 pm

caddis wrote:One morning on the trail back from Benson lake, my hiking partner and I met two old men sitting down at the top of Seavey Pass drinking a cup of coffee. They looked to be in their mid 60's at least...white hair and white beards. You'd have thought they were John Muir and Ansel Adams. After a short goodmorning and small talk we learned they had made this hike (the loop from twin lakes) a few times in the past and were taking their time, doing it again. The meeting is memorable because it was a picture of where I wanted to be in 20-25 years and let me know I still had plenty of hikes left in me. I regret to this day not taking a picture of the two sitting there in the rocks sipping coffee.


That reminds me of a couple in their mid 60's that my wife and I met while on a hike near Green Lake (eastern front south of Bridgeport). Both loved backpacking and fishing and I recall the wife telling us this story of a monster brown she caught at Heather Lake in Desolation Wilderness--so big that when she packed it out in her large external frame pack (she was a tall woman) that the tail stuck out the top of the main compartment. In any case, my wife and I both said that we hoped that was the image of us, decades in the future (would have been three decades in the future as of then). We too regret we didn't take a picture of the two.
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 Buck Forester » Mon Jan 23, 2006 3:30 pm

I remember one summer meeting a man in his late 60's at a Bitterroot trailhead in western Montana. He was shirtless and wearing shorts and he said he was on his way to run up a peak and back as part of his regular training. He was in incredible shape. It was inspiring to me to know that if I stay in shape that I can continue backpacking well into my 60's and 70's. We became friends and he made me his homemade buckwheat pancakes one morning and I spent a couple evenings at his cabin in Hamilton enjoying many hours worth of his slide shows from his years of wilderness backpacking. I love slide shows and he was excited that somebody actually wanted to see them too!
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Postby Timberline » Mon Jan 23, 2006 9:04 pm

"I remember one summer meeting a man in his late 60's . . . ."

Yeah, Buck, (and a nod of acknowlegment to several others who have made similar comments), I was also inspired along those lines some years back when I introduced my oldest son to the Sierra on a week-long backpack via Mono Pass to Pioneer Basin and the Recesses. We base camped at 4th Recess lake and spent several days exploring that beautiful headwaters area. One afternoon shortly after returning to our camp, four fellows cruised by us and set up camp just a few yards away from us along the lakeshore. After a polite interval, we went over to introduce ourselves and welcome them all to the neighborhood. It was a most genial and friendly encounter, as these things tend to be in the backcountry. Turns out they were all related (brothers, uncles, nephews, so forth). Three of them were well into their 60's, and the "youngin" was 58 years old I believe. They had trekked all the way from Silver Pass that day, and this journey was just another of their annual get togethers to backpack in the Sierra. One of their group, recently retired at 64 years, had worked the latter part of his career, so I recall now, as an urban foreester in Griffith Park, L.A. He showed us a photo he carried with him on this hike, that was taken when he was a fiew years younger than my son. The photo showed him as a young boy standing astride the trail just east-side of Mono Pass where the trail emerges from the narrows below the Pass to open onto that grand vista that first reveals the peaks above Little Lakes Valley and along the Abbott - Mills Divide high above Ruby Lake. He mentioned he had brought this picture along to view once again when they reached that point on this particular hike, which for him would have been some 50 years earlier. Needless to say, both my son and I were greatly impressed by the significance of this event in his life, and his genuineness in sharing such a personal highlight.

While my son and I greatly enjoyed our Sierra experience together, we particularly remember this encounter with four old guys sharing, again, a similar bond of hiking and adventure. For me especially, I realized that age need not be a barrier to full enjoyment of the high country. Now that I'm in my 60's, that realization is paying off, and I'm continually grateful to those four fellows for their example
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
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Postby Snow Nymph » Mon Jan 23, 2006 9:38 pm

caddis wrote:One morning on the trail back from Benson lake, my hiking partner and I met two old men sitting down at the top of Seavey Pass drinking a cup of coffee. They looked to be in their mid 60's at least...white hair and white beards. You'd have thought they were John Muir and Ansel Adams. After a short goodmorning and small talk we learned they had made this hike (the loop from twin lakes) a few times in the past and were taking their time, doing it again. The meeting is memorable because it was a picture of where I wanted to be in 20-25 years and let me know I still had plenty of hikes left in me. I regret to this day not taking a picture of the two sitting there in the rocks sipping coffee.


As a newbie 23 years ago, I remember seeing two women in their 60s, with full packs on up at Piute Pass. It just seemed cool to see them up there and I wanted to be like them.
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Postby Rosabella » Tue Jan 24, 2006 7:08 am

Well, this isn't really quite the same as happening upon someone who makes an impression, but for me, my Dad has been my biggest inspiration. He took us backpacking as soon as we were old enough to carry a pack; I was 7-years old the first time I climbed Mt. Whitney.

The last hike I took with my Dad was 5 years ago, from Onion Valley to Whitney. He was 83-years old. I treasure the memories of that trip.
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Postby giantbrookie » Tue Jan 24, 2006 11:13 am

Echoing Rosabella's comment, I would be remiss if I didn't also say that my dad was the No. 1 inspiration for taking to the hills. He introduced me to the mountains at the age of 4 or 5 and taught me how to read a topo map at 6. By 10 I could look at topo maps and plan off trail routes to bag various peaks (no Secor in those days, so no detailed route descriptions). It probably didn't hurt that he was the closest thing to Superman I've ever met. At the age of 60 (in fact, to celebrate his birthday) he made the backpack from the Edison Rd/Bear Diversion intersection (didn't know we could easily 2WD to trailhead) to Lou Beverly Lake in 5.5 hours as a set up to bag Seven Gables. In his "prime" at the age of 45 he made East Lake via Bubbs Creek in 4 hours, and he said that included lounging for a half hour for lunch. At 5'3-1/2", 135-140lbs he would carry a pack that commonly weighed close to 70lbs (lots of photographic equipment, he was a superb photographer) and once over 100lbs (when carrying a bunch of rocks--he was an amateur rockhound and this is what started me on the road to geology) and looked taller than him. I'd call him the "American Sherpa".

I count myself an unusually fortunate individual because I can say that my No. 1 all time climbing partner was my dad, and my No. 1 fishing and drinking buddy is my wife. I hope I can instill the joy of the mountains in my children, too (we had kids late, so, sadly, my dad never lived to see his grandchildren), which reminds me of another fun encounter in the backcountry..

My wife and I were leaving Evolution via Lamarck Col. when we ran into three generations of male backpackers crossing the col. The youngest one was but 7 and had a pack as big as him. His father couldn't keep up with him. His only problem came at the "hikers snow groove" through the summit snowfield. Because of his short legs, the pack hung up on the sides of the groove and his feet couldn't touch the ground. Here, his grandad had to help him. Elsewhere, he left his dad in the dust, prompting his grandad (who was leading the group) so say "maybe you should go back and keep your dad company." The little fellow's first and middle names were Darwin Lamarck. Apparently the dad and mom (absent because of a bad knee, apparently) had hiked over Lamarck Col many years before and loved it (and Darwin Canyon) so much they vowed to name their first born after the place. I would have to say little Darwin Lamarck was worthy of the name and then some.

By the way, Buck, your mention of Hamilton brings back memories of my one summer in the Bitterroots (1980). I was staying in a cabin south of Darby, and I would occasionally make the trip to Missoula to go to the regional office of the company I was working for. That trip, of course, led through Hamilton. I recall there was a sporting goods store there with one of the best lure selections I've ever seen. They just had racks and racks of lures, many of which were without packaging and simply hung from the racks by their hooks. Those that know my fishing habits know that my lure of choice are various Z-Rays, but that summer I saw this pattern of Wonderlure (a trade name for a type of spoon) on the rack at that store that I KNEW would be a killer on first sight. It was green fading to yellow with a red honeycomb pattern over that. I did side by side tests with the rest of the my lure arsenal and that one clearly had the rest beat. I couldn't find a place that carried it once I got back to CA though.
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 AldeFarte » Wed Jan 25, 2006 12:12 am

Good post Brookie. My dad turned the fam. on to packing, too. I don't know how he found the time. The thing about my dad was ,he gave me a lot of freedom. He trusted us to make good judgements. One time as a tyke on the Clackamas river {Oregon} at Austin hot springs, I got my lure hung up on the bottom. We shared lures back then and I was unwilling to break it off. Dad said go for it, so I found a stout stick and braced myself against the current and with him watching, I waded out up to my chest in what seemed a raging current and retrieved the lure.Had to completely submerge . When I got back ,I asked him what would have happened if I lost my footing. He said" I was watching, you were ok." Our first trip was to Cora lakes.He packed a frying pan in those days and always did the cooking. Been upward and onward from there. jls
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Postby Snow Nymph » Wed Jan 25, 2006 12:41 am

Great stories!
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Postby krudler » Wed Jan 25, 2006 8:04 pm

I can't say I actually met somebody that turned me on to backpacking. You see, I grew up in Florida, and I lived there for the first 31 years of my life until 2001 when I got married and wifey wanted to live out here because her sister was in the OC. There was plenty of fishing, boating, canoeing, surfing, and so forth - but backpacking and mountainous type pursuits were something you occasionally saw on ESPN on Sat mornings while you were cleaning up your mess from the night before.
However, once, for a time, way back when in 1979, my dad was working in Red Bluff for a while as part of a "temporary transfer" with Western Electric (ultimately part of AT&T, from which he retired after 42 years). We came out to visit for a couple of weeks in the summer and took the requisite family car trip to see the sights in Lassen Natl Park and Shasta/Trinity Natl Forest. I was a nine year old Florida boy who had never seen anything but blue seas and tropical islands (including a summer in Puerto Rico). Cool, but not exactly similar to the Sierra. As a kid, there was a lot of time to read in my life which I dutifully filled up reading the usual fantasy tale classics from the likes of Tolkien, CS Lewis, etc. Thats about as close as you got to wilderness adventure for a kid from FL.
So here we are driving up to Mt.Lassen, my first ever views of real-life forests and mountains. I was glued to the window, amazed. Some people might have the same reaction to the Florida Keys, but I had already seen that a hundred times and been through a couple hurricanes. That was "normal". This was not.
At some point we round a corner, past what seemed like an open dirt area at the edge of the forest with a pretty spectacular view in the distance. Only now do I realize it was probably a trailhead. I'm thinking "Wow, just like the stories!". At this same time I see, emerging from the forest, some dudes with big red backpacks. Clearly they have been out there. Incredulously I say to my dad, "Wow, Dad! You mean they'll let you go out there?!?". My small mind reels at the idea!
"Well," my dad says in his usual understated, Georgia way as we pull around the corner, "if you're old enough and know what you're doing, sure, they'll let you go out there." At that moment I decided if I ever got the chance to do such a thing when I got "older", I was going to do it.
And so here we are :)
Hmmm I wonder if one of those dudes was markskor ;)
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Postby AldeFarte » Thu Jan 26, 2006 12:40 am

Krudler, Could that be construed to have been an epiphany? Cool. It is always neat to pinpoint your life at a given time. Like where were you when John Lennon was shot?,Etc. {I was skinning muskrats in a cold garage} One time years ago I was in Fl. and climbed a big old pine to the top and looked out and as far as I could see ,It was like climbing a blade of grass on a large lawn . Flat and featurless. I knew I had to get back west and hit the sierra. Took me 3 months to escape. jls
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Old Guys in the Woods

Postby BSquared » Thu Jan 26, 2006 5:29 am

...I once had a young kid ask me (with appropriately wide eyes) if I was Colin Fletcher! Heheheh.... I think Colin's got at least a few years on me, but what a great compliment!
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