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A Sierra Malaise.....

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
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A Sierra Malaise.....

Postby mokelumnekid » Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:50 pm

I am trying to plan a 5-6 night trip in late August, and I simply can’t get excited about anything.

This started last year- the wife and I had powered into Dumbbell Lakes via Taboose and were well set. We scrambled a few peaklets and Observation. And staring up at the beautiful Ansel Adams sky….

I was bored out of my mind. I’m still bored. All the little delights of lakes and geology and the joy (seriously) of the athleticism and route finding have flown the coop.

Is it just the culmination of a lifetime of repetition? Grew up going to a family (log!) cabin in Hermit Valley (Ebbetts Pass), backpacked in the ‘60’s with the Scouts, really got serious about it in the ‘70’s and also worked on trail crews. Was up there non-stop, except for grad school years both for recreation and doing geological mapping through the ‘80’s. Started doing more serious backcountry climbing, there and around the Western US, Pacific Northwest, Andes and Alps. (Unfortunately few pictures of those trips).

The last 15 years have seen many backpacking trips, mostly from east side trailheads, and multi-week stints at Tuolumne Meadows for work. The last few years the wife and I have been tearing it up pretty good (getting from North Lake to Merriam Lk. in a day with a full pack at age 56 was a high point!). We’ve pretty much been everywhere I want to go…. I’ve done most of the High Route and its variants, visited teh lost corners, etc. And I’m not interested in backcountry technical rock anymore (plus it is too much like work).

Where I’m going with this is that somehow, I have lost the mojo. It is not a lack of fitness- simply that I look at the map and there are few places that I am dying to spend time in. But it is not just the Sierra- Tetons? Check. Winds? Check. North Cascades? (Double Check) Wallowas? Check. I've even been to Antarctica for chrissakes, Etc.

So- help me find the magic, the flame again folks- comments welcome!



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Re: A Sierra Malaise.....

Postby Strider » Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:08 am

Maybe disadvantaged or disabled kids who would otherwise never get a chance to experience the thrill that you seem to have lost would appreciate your taking them on a hiking trip. Maybe the look on their faces would reawaken your enthusiasm for life.
'Hike long and perspire'
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Re: A Sierra Malaise.....

Postby Take-a-Hike » Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:10 am

Hey, MK, it's called Mid Life Crises!!!
It will pass.
Don't fret.

PS: I was going through last years' photos of Lakes Basin, ran into the ones of us on Cartridge Pass...reminded me of the shape I want to be in but have tough time attaining, but keep working at.

Also, don't go running out buying some goofy little sports car, airplane, etc., just cause your bored to death. Maybe come up w/a "bucket list" and see what you get. It might start the "juices" flowing again or give you ideas about life in general.

Good Luck
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Re: A Sierra Malaise.....

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Jul 22, 2010 9:43 am

A couple of years ago, I realized I had no idea at all what most of the wildflowers I saw were. I started making an effort to identify and photograph them, and it developed into a fairly serious hobby. And now, when I go into the backcountry, there's a whole other world (at a completely different scale) for me to look at and appreciate. Did a trip into Chain Lakes last weekend, which is a place that I would once have reflexively considered boring (trail, people, not that far in), but which I enjoyed immensely thanks partly to the wildflower hunting. I saw things I never would have noticed before--carpets of tiny wildflowers, barely noticeable unless you're looking for them.

Image
Image

And the point here isn't wildflowers. The point is the habit of seeing. There's so much to see and experience up there; sometimes a deliberate shift in focus can renew one's ability to appreciate how much there really is.
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Re: A Sierra Malaise.....

Postby maverick » Thu Jul 22, 2010 2:52 pm

I like you have been running through the Sierra for decades, and have covered a lot
of it.
I agree with Tom that you need to approach it from a different angle, but with the
same enthusiasm.
I have lit a new fire in my soul by using photography with which I am bringing
these beautiful mountains to those who either experienced them in there younger
years, or have never had the chances, or yearning we have.
Seeing there faces light up when they hang a 24x36 print on there wall literally
transporting them into the scene like when they were kids watching" The Wizard of Oz"
for the first time.
Looking for an out of the ordinary shots, angle, light, and mood, all add intrigue, and
a never ending treasure of challenge that will keep my busy for a life time.
You need to find a niche/purpose to your adventures.
For example put together a book of photo's of rocks, trees, animals, rivers, or what
ever floats your boat, and run with it, immerse yourself in this project, just find a
meaning again, a fresh new angle/start, with your years of experience!
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Re: A Sierra Malaise.....

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:01 pm

You are in a rut. That is why you are bored. It is in your head- does not matter the place. Give it a break for a year or two and try something new. For instance, whitewater kayaking? You can do like a few crazy dudes did and hike up Shepard Pass with kayak on your back and then run the Kern river. How about hiking the coast from Washington to Mexico? Do you have grandkids, neices, nephews - taking kids out is really different. Or maybe get really away from the wilderness so you can come back and really appreciate it. Explore inner city slums. Do some international travel focusing on differnt cultures. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and build houses. Etc.

Stay in shape, do not fall into excessive drinking, see a shrink if need be, get lots of hugs from family and friends. Spend some reflective time to figure out what you really want out of life instead of running from one hike to another.

I have avoided the mid-life backpacking crisis because for about 20 years I was tied down raising kids and just making a living. I got back into technical climbing after the kids left home. I quit my full time job when I got their college paid off and now able to do longer and more relaxed trips. My absense from backpacking and climbing all those years really did make my desire to backpack and climb stronger than ever. I have yet to be bored.
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Re: A Sierra Malaise.....

Postby paul » Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:19 pm

Maybe a change of seasons? Are you a snow camper? Maybe just skip it for a year or two, and do something else. Or a completely different kind of trip. Here is what I want to do next time I can get out by myself; a trip with no map, no compass, no watch. To someplace I either haven't been before or haven't been to in a long time. Just to see what it would be like to really explore and wander.
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Re: A Sierra Malaise.....

Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:01 am

Strider and Maverick both touch on a point that I think is worth emphasizing: sometimes it's possible to develop your own enthusiasm from the enthusiasm of others. When I was leading Sierra Club trips, some of my favorite moments were when newbies saw something really spectacular for the first time. Maybe those moments of joy in others could be a way to rekindle your own joy.
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Re: A Sierra Malaise.....

Postby Bad Man From Bodie » Fri Jul 23, 2010 12:18 pm

This is a tough one. The way I see it, your spoiled and so am I. Two weeks ago, my wife and I were having dinner at a place in Tahoe on the water. Everyone was commenting on how beautiful the place was and enjoying the views of the lake and the mountains. My wife and I looked at each other and decided (not so much). What are we saying here. For 30 yr olds we are both well traveled, have several degrees in our household, two beautiful kids, two homes in the nice part of town, good jobs, what more could you want. I ask myself what’s next? I have already accomplished everything I set out to do and I am only 30.

What a load of BS. It’s called being spoiled. How many people come from all over the world to see the area I grew up in and currently live? Find humility and you will find your mojo again. I understand 100% how one could lose the mojo of the High Sierras though. Everyone from a small town can relate to the fact that when you turned 18 you wanted nothing more than to get the heck out of Dodge and see the world. Where I grew up (Lee Vining) this was the case with everyone, but generally, there were two outcomes. Those who got away and those who couldn’t get away. I guess I fall into the category of those who couldn’t get away.

The things that bring people to the High Sierra is different for everyone. What I get excited about is far different than what most people who visit the Sierra gets excited about yet in so many ways it is all the same. It gets into your blood and no matter how you want to fight it you will never win. You will always find yourself coming back (no matter how unexciting it seems). My family has been battling this for well over 100years. Some family members chose to stay and endure the Mono Lake winter fog while others chose not to and would rather try to make it somewhere else for a while. Everyone comes back at some point. It’s kind of like those books/movies Legends of the Fall or a River Runs Through It. Whatever it is, it runs deep and is in my blood. I will always come back until I die. I have no choice in the matter. I am constantly haunted by my High Sierra. There are far too many memories. Its circular and I just can quite making memories.

Today I will go back to Lee Vining yet again and will go to the house of my 83yr old grandfather and will see old black and white photos on the wall of the generations of family who have lived and died in the Eastern Sierra. Its not the excitement of the Eastern Sierra that has kept my family around for well over 100yrs (it gets freaking boring) but rather the humility you feel when you have become part of the landscape. With humility comes perspective and only then can I clearly see the blessings God has put before me. I am haunted by the Eastern Sierra because I can never leave, but overjoyed in what she has given me and my family. It is in the connection between the creator, the land, and family where I find the meaning of life. I’ll leave the excitement part for my sons when we get to drop Dana Col. for the first time or I get to watch my sons eyes when they get their first golden on a dry fly or even my grandfathers eyes this weekend when he watches his great grandchildren play in the same mountain stream that he played in when his great grandfather took him camping. Open your eyes and ears and listen to what the mountains tell you. Only then will you find humility and mojo.

Image
Good Luck, BMFB
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Re: A Sierra Malaise.....

Postby rightstar76 » Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:49 pm

Great words of wisdom...You couldn't have said it better. It's the connection we have with others, the satisfaction we get from helping each other that gives life meaning and purpose. Thanks BMFB.
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Re: A Sierra Malaise.....

Postby Timberline » Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:09 pm

mokelumnekid wrote:Where I’m going with this is that somehow, I have lost the mojo. It is not a lack of fitness- simply that I look at the map and there are few places that I am dying to spend time in. But it is not just the Sierra- Tetons? Check. Winds? Check. North Cascades? (Double Check) Wallowas? Check. I've even been to Antarctica for chrissakes, Etc.

So- help me find the magic, the flame again folks- comments welcome!


Hey, mokelumnekid! Already lots of friends here tying to help your search, offering many sound and well-meant suggestions. I don't pretend to have an answer for you, just a thought to share from my own place in all of the wonderment of these mountains. My aged body no longer supplies the stamina or tolerates the wear and tear of mountain ramblings the way I once liked to do them, but I haven't lost the enduring sense that I am most alive when deep in the Sierra, and the higher the better. If what you feel you've lost is something like that, consider where that magic always came from for you. My first inspiration was John Muir's writings ("Climb the mountains and get their good tidings!"), which led me to find that magic for myself. I suppose all of us who visit and contribute to HST have done that, each in our own way. So, for me, it is in the pristine stillness of the sunrise ("How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!" - - Muir again), the pure light (wow, Muir really got that right!), the perfection of a tiny flower, the vibrant intensity of alpenglow, the freshness of each changing moment, the breath of heaven itself. Whatever touches you at that deepest place, it's all inside, amigo. Time to go THERE! :nod:
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
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Re: A Sierra Malaise.....

Postby balzaccom » Fri Jul 23, 2010 7:05 pm

Sounds like you are depressed, to me. And instead of blaming the mountains, it might make some sense to figure out what is depressing you...because I seriously doubt it's the Sierra...!
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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