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When, and where did it all start?

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When, and where did it all start?

Postby maverick » Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:43 pm

When did your infatuation with Sierra backpacking all begin?
Was it going out on family trips? Boy scouts, or did it maybe begin later in life when a
friend invited you along and you got bit by the bug?
Maybe you just wanted to try something new and different, or your inner Muir was calling?
What trip were you on that you came to realized that this was going to be a life time
obsession?
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby rlown » Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:54 pm

when did it start for you, Mav?
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby LMBSGV » Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:26 pm

I was a lover of wilderness since childhood. I spent summers in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota from the age of 9 until 20. I was also enthralled by the photos of Ansel Adams and Richard Kaufman’s Gentle Wilderness in my parent’s library. When my wife and I moved to the Bay Area in 1975, going to the Sierra was a big priority. I wanted to see those places. Circumstances (too long to elaborate here) prevented us from getting to Yosemite Valley until the fall of 1977. We loved it. In September 1978, we took our first high country trip out of Tuolumne Meadows to Upper Fletcher Lake. I picked it from a description in the old Wilderness Press quadrangle hiking guides. We hiked up, getting more and more enthralled by the views both near and far. We arrived at Fletcher Lake and hiked about halfway down to a campsite near one of the cables that were then used for hanging food. That first evening, as we watched the alpenglow on Mt. Conness, the Sierra Crest, and Cathedral Range, something invoked the essence of my being. Every time I return, I experience that feeling.

That night, the temperatures dropped to somewhere in the 20s. We didn’t have pads for insulation and so we’re extremely cold all night despite our excellent sleeping bags. We got up at dawn to watch the sunrise. Fletcher Lake was entirely covered with a thin layer of ice. Frost covered the ground. As the sun rose, the ice refracted the light in a kaleidiscope of patterns. After breakfast, we day-hiked over Vogelsang Pass to Lewis Creek valley. We spent the day wandering around before going back over the pass. The next night was even colder. At dawn, Fletcher Lake was quite frozen. All but one party camped at the near end of the lake was gone. I vividly remember us sitting watching the sunrise over the Sierra Crest. We were young and in love and had now fallen in love with the High Sierra.
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:21 am

There are two parts to this question- "Backpacking" and "Sierra". As a small kid I did a lot of playing in the woods. In High School a teacher put a flyer on the board that advertised "Mountain School" for the Spokane Mountaineers. I became addicted to mountaineering. Climbed Mt. Rainer when I was 16. Went all over the Cascades and Selkirks of BC. Got more into rock climbing in college. Bounced around from college to college based on which was closest to the mountains and which had the best outing club! Ended up in Wyoming and climbed central Rockies. Two fellows I knew also worked for NOLS when it was first starting and got me in. After college I taught NOLS mountaineering courses for seven years in the Wind Rivers. Had kids, got a real job. Ended up in the Sierra when a job in Sacramento was the only one I could find after my late-in-life completion of graduate school in Utah. I moved to California in the mid 1990's and immediately bought every topo map in the Sierra and started north-to-south exploring. Bumped into SPS group in Dusy Basin. Joined mountaineering clubs. Got back into technical climbing. Backpacking was simply a means to get to a mountain. Then about 5 years back deaths of climbing acquaitences sort of got to me so I backed off technical climbing and now mainly do backpacking, California county high points and 14'ers and easy peak-bagging. In summary, I came to backpacking through mountaineering; I came to the Sierra due a job.
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby sirlight » Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:40 am

This brings back some memories. I did a number of car camp trips when I was younger with only short day hikes. In high school I became a techno-nerd and had not been outdoors in years. Finished college and started my career and pretty much became a couch potato (and smoker!!!!).

Fast forward a few years to the summer of 1999 when my aunt and uncle offered me the use of their timeshare in Tahoe. I found all the usual excuses for not wanting to do it. You know, too busy at work and it was too expensive to get there. I decided to go anyway and just hopped on a plane and did it. During my trip I thought it would be nice to do a short hike. The hike I decided on was Cascade Falls. It was only 2 miles with very little elevation gain but it kicked my tail. I had a wonderful time and it really rekindled my love of the mountains and hiking.

Upon my return home, I decided to be a hiker. First thing was to get a book on the local trails here in San Diego and begin working my way though it. Every weekend would be a new adventure. During the next year, I managed to loose a bunch of weight and kick the smoking habit.

Then I found out about the Tahoe Rim Trail and decided to day hike it in sections. On my second "dayhike", on the rim trail I did the Tahoe Meadows to Spooner Summit section. It completely destroyed me. It was way tougher than expected and too much for me as a day hike. I bag full of gorp and a couple bottles of water was just not enough. At the time, I had no idea that you could actually DRINK the water from those streams! Upon my return home, I decided that if I wanted to ever do the section through desolation, I would need to buy backpacking equipment. No idea what I was doing, so I just went to REI and said "set me up!". My credit card never felt so abused before!

I have been hiking, backpacking and now fishing ever since. Another man saved from civilization by the sierra.
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby BrianF » Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:07 am

I started backpacking at 11 in 1965 in the Los Padres Nat'l forest in and around the San Rafael wilderness. My first Sierra trip was at 15, over Bishop Pass to Leconte Cyn and Ladder lake with a friend and his dad. I was already hooked on backpacking, but that trip really opened my eyes to the posssibilities of the Sierra. The next year that friend and I did the South Lake to North lake Loop (dropped off and picked up by very understanding parents, since we didn't even have driver's licenses yet, let alone a car). Two years later the Muir Trail.
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby oldranger » Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:46 am

My earliest memories were camping with my parents in Yosemite valley in the early 50's. A little later in the 50's my introduction to the backcountry was a day hike to Cora Lakes when we were car camping at Bass Lake. Within a year or two I did my first overnighter (actually at least 3 nights) from Granite Creek to Lower Isberg Lake. From then on I went anytime I could get my dad to go. At 15 my parents took me and a friend up to Tuolumne Meadows and left us to car camp (sans car) for a week with uncle, a seasonal ranger, to keep an eye on us. He drove us to the Murphy Creek TH and we hiked to Glen Aulin with the expectation that we would hike down to Waterwheel Falls the next day. But we met a dude that told us about fishing in Mattie lake. So next day we headed up the Canyon Walls to Mattie. We filled up our creels with nice 12" brookies. And the rest is history...

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: When, and where did it all start?

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:51 am

I'm not really sure. I think I was still in the womb on my first camping trip.

The latest iteration of frenzied outdoors going behavior came at the end of an extended period of my caving to the demands of a job and a school schedule - about the time I got the master's degree and shed the obligation to spend 15-20 hours a week in a classroom, my feet hit the trail and haven't stopped.
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby maverick » Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:16 pm

Rlown wrote "when did it start for you, Mav?".

Here you go.
My first wilderness experience was camping with my folks and friends in Yosemite
Valley back in the 60's when I was 8.
The drive into the Valley seeing El Cap towering over the valley floor, and all
that beautiful granite and water falls still too this day gives me goose bumps, as
did the views from Glacier Point for the first time.
My backpacking experience was on a 2 week boyscout trip 1 years later.
We left early in the morning to visit a fire lookout on top of a peak several miles
away from our camp site.
There was a lot of snow especially as we got into shaded sections, I sunk in waist deep
in some sections with my 20 lb pack.
As we got closer to the lookout we had to follow the ridge line that still had quite a
bit of snow, and the wind was howling.
There were some stairs with a hand rail that everyone held on to for dear life because
the wind was very strong, blowing several kids hats over the cliffs.
After spending about 30 min's talking to the rangers, and admiring the view we headed
back.
There was a rocky valley we passed through that had a small creek running through it
about an 1 1/2 hours from the lookout we had just left.
The ridge on our east rose about 800 ft above our current location with the afternoon
sun beaming down on us with temps around mid 70's.
Then we all stopped, at the same time, looking at each other because we had all heard
the same sound.
We all stood still, waiting for it again, hoping it would be louder, and more discernable.
Then it happened, a loud roar, a mountain lion's call from some where echoing
through the valley, and every one of our bodies.
Frightened and thrilled at the same time, with adrenaline rushing through my veins,
we all continued on after 10 min's, not hearing the feline again.
I knew at that moment that I was going to be a lifer, and to this day a can hear and
feel that cat's meow run down the back of spine!
Now yours Rlown.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby Troutdog 59 » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:50 pm

My infatuation with backpacking began about 1971 or 72, but not from directly doing a trip. Fishing has been a part of my life since I can remember because I had a Dad who took me and my brother out a few times each year. We lived overseas until I was 8, but my earliest fishing memories are those of fishing with my Dad and Grandpa: catching limits of trout from Big Bear Lake (used velvetta for bait) when I was about 5; and bucket loads of panfish (crappie and bluegill) from the Lower Coloroado River when I was about 6. My dad wasnt a backpacker, but he took us to the mountains to fish roadside lakes and we even took a few short dayhikes to nearby lakes. The bug was implanted and fishing has been part of my mindset since those early trips, but backpacking would still be in the waiting mode.

We didn't have the internet and great sites such as this one with wonderous stories and pictures of high country fishing and the corresponding tales of adventure that went along with fishing the backcountry. What we had were the anglers guides and the magazines of the times (Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Field and Stream, etc), and those tales of adventure and the pictures of wild high country trout with colors more brilliant than I could have ever imagined caught my eye. The articles from the likes of Erwin Bauer showed pics of huge cuttrhoats in the Candian Rockies and huge Goldens from the Wind River range in Wyoming, and the fantatsic story telling had me absolutely awestruck. Just the covers of those old magazines were tremendous with visions of huge Grizzlies on a steep mountain path, or an illustration of an Artic Char leaping in the whitewater of a Canadian River. They now sell some as artwork. I hung by each and every word and my addiction to the backcountry was just beggining.

But one writer, Mr. Mike Hayden, wrote mostly of his hiking adventures in Californias wilderness areas. His stories of fishing the Sierra Wilderness with his wife Mary absolutely captivated me, and one particlar article (The Golden Circle), would be influential on my backpacking. After reading that article, I knew I wanted to try and catch a golden trout and I knew that I needed to have a backpack to do it. I recently purchased his book, "Fishing the californai Wilderness" after reading about it here on HTC. I was surpised I had not previously heard of it, and was even more surprised to find it to be a collection of the same stories (less the Golden Circle) that had caught my imigination so many moons ago. The trip reports for Papoose Lake and the Crabtrees instantly brought back memories of my youth and my early days of dreaming about the backcountry.

So, in the summer of 1975 I traded my friend Tom (CI Seawolf) a bag of lets say, herbal remedy products, for a cheap KMart Backpack and it was on. Funny thing was that my 1st trip was actaully doing a trip we read about in a mag, but it wasnt one of Mr. Haydens (I dont recall who wrote it).

It was a short loop trip in Northern California to some lakes near Graeagle, called the Jamison Lake Loop that we had read about in Outdoor Life. The trip almost didnt happen, but would end up being pretty typical for my backpacking preferences. We had reserved our "Fire Permit" via the mail, but when we got there we were told that we couldnt use the permit due to the drought condidtions at the time. As if that werent enough, we were told we couldnt even use our stoves :eek: . Nowadays, the statement "you cant use your stove" wouldnt fluster me as much, but to us on our first backpacking trip the statement was paramount to saying you cant go. Furthermore, there was a bubonic plague warning at the TH we wanted to use and we had our dog Fuzz with us #-o .

We really didnt know what to do, but they suggested we could camp at the local campground and dayhike to the lakes. It was the July 4th weekend, and we almost didnt get a campsite. We were setting up our camp when the neighbors 3/4 year old went on a rant. My brother looked at me and said this wasnt what he had envisioned and I concurred. We broke out the maps and found that our original destination was "just on the other side of the ridge." The rangers had said the flea thing was only at the trailhead, so we figured if we cross countried in and out, we would miss the trailhead. So we went back and gave up the camp site and in about an hour, we were on a ridge looking down at tJamison Lake. Trouble is there was no trail and it was steeper than we had anticipated. What to do? We finally just side stepped off the trail and began a contolled glissade down the steepest part of the slope until it leveled out abit. So began my adventures of cross country backpacking.

It was adventure to say the least, but one I wont ever forget. I know I never went on another trip with so many backcountry rangers. We saw at least one every day of the trip and sometimes 2 (guess budgets were in better shape back then). Each Ranger would ask you what you were eating in an attempt to see if you were using your stove or a fire. One had to think abit before one spoke. Of course, being the well mannered civilly obediant young men we were, we didnt have any problems :^o . One friendly BC Ranger almost helped us get into trouble (beleive me, we were always good enough at finding trouble on our own). He told us it would be OK to have a fire in the dry rocky lake bottom adjacent our camp, so off we went and round up wood for a fire. Trouble was the next ranger that came through the following morning didnt have the same inclination and cited us for it. We tried our excuse and the ranger did include our explanation on the citation, but we still got it. However, several weeks later we recieved a letter indicating the fine had been dismissed. We figured we owed thanks to the 1st ranger if he still had a job!! Please dont take the statement wrong, I am a backpacker that follows the given rules. This was just an unusual situation back in a time that there werent even many fire restrictions yet alone complete bans. Additionally, I have never again come across such conditions in 35 years of backpacking. Ive been in areas were no fires were allowed, but I have never had a stove restriction since that trip in 1975.

Well, thats how it got started for me, and sites like this just keep making it worse by giving me more excuses to go!!!!!!!!
If you stand in the light, you get the feel of the night, and the music that plays in your ear......
In your mind you can hear, a voice so sweet and clear, and the music that plays in your head......
As it flows up from the ground, taking all that hear the sound, close your eyes, it’s about to begin.

R. Trower
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby rlown » Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:25 pm

maverick wrote:Rlown wrote "when did it start for you, Mav?".
..
Now yours Rlown.


ok, then..

I was 7, i think. My parents took me camping somewhere up on the June Lakes Loop as we lived in La Crescenta, CA at the time. I caught a 16" brown on an ol' fiberglass rod with a Mitchell 300 reel. I don't remember actually doing it but it was a nice picture.

My parents never backpacked, but my dad liked to hunt and some of those trips allowed exploration.

I joined the boy scouts in ~ `71. Our scoutmaster decided that he liked winter trips, so off to the Salmon Lakes in Tahoe Nat forest we went; canvas tents, cheap sleeping bags, and those ol' external frame packs with the unpadded hip belts. It was cold. So cold, that we bugged out early. I never liked that guy.

His next trip was to near Camp Sacramento; Same gear. It was colder and snowier. My friend and I woke up and saw everyone gone. We found their tracks where they broke into a cabin there to get warm.

His next trip was down to Kirby Cove near the headlands of SF Bay. Now you'd think they came prepared.. Not! My friend and i brought a great tent and plastic to cover it (think fog).

We wake up, and everyone is gone again. We see smoke billowing out of one of the ol' bunkers, and we duck in. There is the scoutmaster and every other scout, hudled around a fire, with the smoke hovering above their heads.

That's when i realized I was done with scouts.

Later, my family spent a couple weeks near Silver Lk on 88. It was beautiful!! I started to think maybe there was more stuff up there to see.

I got my drivers license at 16, and I had some likeminded friends that wanted to backpack. We spent some time at the Berkeley REI, and bought "Sierra North" (great book), and some camptrails backpacks, beefy mountaineer boots (still have them, but they are relics), and good bags. Ordered our maps which came in those triangular cardboard containers in the mail, and poured over them. I mowed lawns to make the money for the gear.

Our first trip was out of Carson Pass over to 4th of july lk. Amazing. We spent the next 4 summers exploring all of the Moke wilderness. An amazing place, except for the ascent up Horse Canyon. That and the western end near Salt springs which is snake infested.

It was mostly about mileage and places back then. I didn't realize until about 18 that I should be fishing (doh). I was fishing for striper and sturgeon in the bay area the whole time, but then I started to see the fish up there. I (and they) were hooked.

After that we moved on to Emigrant, which was nice. I thought Yose valley was pretty, but too many people. Then, I found Tioga pass. Fell in love with the venue.

After all that, I never looked back. I feel free up there, and only got away with 2-3 trips a year.

Russ
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby balzaccom » Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:09 pm

My dad was a California State Park Ranger, so I spent my very first summer in a cabin at Donner Lake. And just about every summer since, if I was in the country, I took time to get up into the mountains. Back-packed through high school and college. Worked at a summer camp during college outside of Yosemite, car-camped when the kids were small. Car-camped when the kids were big and didn't want to hike that much.

Now that we're empty nesters, we are back on the trails again, and loving every minute of it.
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