When, and where did it all start?

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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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Post by stevet » Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:09 am

It started 40 years ago this summer with Boy Scout Troop 50. We hiked a "50 miler" from Mosquito Flat, over Mono Pass and exited a week later over Mammoth Pass.

I am not sure if it was the spectacular scenery, drinking straight from crystal clear creeks, swimming to the "island" in Silver Pass Lake, the fresh onion we harvested in Cascade Valley, or gorging on pizza at the end of the hike (or all of the above). But it remains most memorable and I've never been the same.

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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Post by Hikin Mike » Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:10 pm

I guess it started when I was in Boy Scouts, at that time I lived in western PA. We didn't go backpacking though, just car-camping. It wasn't until I got to California via the USAF around 1987, that I started backpacking....if you can call that a backpacking trip. Me and a friend decided to try backpacking. We didn't have a plan and decided to go to the snow play area right before the Wawona gate at Yosemite. There was still plenty of snow and we were not prepared to walk in deep snow, but we didn't care. We found a spot miles away, or at least we thought. Turned out to be less than a quarter of a mile, but with all of the post-holing, it felt like miles!

My first real trip was with my wife to Chain Lakes in Yosemite.

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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Post by Jimr » Tue Mar 15, 2011 9:45 am

Mine started in about 1973. My uncle took me to Blue lake with his roommate. I had an old boyscout pack that was murder on my shoulders. My uncle and I divvied up his roommates gear so he could carry a 3 man inflatable with a foot pump. We inflated it at the outlet creek of Blue Lake and rowed to the island to camp for three days. Each day, we floated around the lake soaking worms on flashers catching trout like crazy. If my memory serves me, I believe the trailhead started on the opposite side of Sabrina than it does today. I remember sitting on the scree slope near the entrance sign that said we needed a permit, so we waited an hour for my Uncle to go back down to Bishop to get the permit.
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Post by Cross Country » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:38 am

The first time my parents took me camping was in the Sierra at 11yo I thought I had died and gone to heaven. A month later I went "backpacking" in the San Jacinto Mtns. with the Boy Scouts. We only had to carry our personal stuff and a tent. I knew I had gone to heaven. We went again 2 years later. From 22 to 26 I did a lot of hiking. I never got to go on a "real" trip until I was 27. I was hooked. From 31 to 52 I never went on less that 3 trips a year and never spent less than 15 days in the BC. The most I ever did in 1 year was 45 days. 30 was typical. From 52 to 65 I went on 8 trips. From Backpacking I glean my best memories especially the many trips with my son(s).
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Post by mokelumnekid » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:57 pm

It kind of came with the territory- my grandparents had a rustic log cabin at Hermit Valley on Hwy. 4 (where the Mokelumne River crosses the road west of Ebbetts Pass at the 7,000' elevation). I spent a lot of time there as a kid where I was a free-range chicken and it all emerged out of that. First with my Dad then with the Scouts, etc. So now you all know why I have the handle, 'Mokelumnekid.'

Still have the cabin- all logs, it built about 1916. My grandparents bought it from the Stevenot family of Angles Camp in about 1943; the Stevenot's used it as a range cabin when they ran cattle into the high country for summer grazing. You can (barely) see it as you whizz along Hwy. 4 through Hermit Valley- it is nestled against the side of the mountain, south side of Hermit Valley with the river right in front. There are five cabins back in there. Ours is obviously the first and oldest, at the end of the access road. Upkeep is a constant hassle and living in Seattle is hard for me to assist my cousins. These old range cabins were never meant to last this long, and this last year was especially hard on the logs. I try and get down there every year of so, but I have to confess having spent so much time there in my life it doesn't thrill me all that much, and I prefer my precious Sierra time in the higher regions to the south.

But relating to the 'Romance" thread- as I came of age I discovered that a date to the cabin was always good for enhancing romantic vibe. Wood stove, lantern light, cold mountain air and a warm snuggly old-timey spring bed with a big pile of comforters- why who could resist?

Here is the all american family at Hermit Valley in 1959, I'm the whippersnapper on the left in my Dad's Army issue WW II cap.
Here is the old place today
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Post by windknot » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:06 pm

I'm noticing a theme, here. My dad introduced me to the mountains with annual family camping trips that began as early as I can remember, those trips themselves vestiges of annual family camping trips that his parents took with him and his brothers. I guess I'll begin with the generation before mine, since that's really where my story really begins, and this way I can also better relate to most of you. :)

Those family camping trips in the 60's and 70's were steadfastly regimented with the precision of my grandfather's military training and the preparation of my grandmother's planning, the whole time anchored by their firm belief that their kids should be exposed to this wholly "American" experience. Never mind that my grandparents had little interest in the mountains or the outdoors themselves. These annual trips all across the western U.S. must have planted a seed within four urban kids growing up in Richmond, CA, because one became a national park ranger, one went to Papua New Guinea with the Peace Corps, stayed there for three years, and then started a fish farm because he decided that he couldn't live or work in a city, and all four still harbor a healthy love for the outdoors.

Growing up on a farm in the Central Valley, I spent virtually every day outside working and playing. Going to the mountains wasn't so much a voyage into the wilderness so much as it was an opportunity to eat tons of junk food (still meticulously coordinated by my grandmother) with my cousins and slide down the slippery rocks of Tenmile Creek above Hume Lake just outside SEKI. In fact, living on a farm in such constant communication with the outside world probably did more to turn me away from the mountains than steer me toward them. My brothers, although I have succeeded in dragging them along with me on a few backpacking trips, have no interest at all in pursuing these kinds of outdoor activities on their own.

So for me, two particular trips stand out as formative in my relationship with "wilderness." The first was my first real backpacking trip with my dad and my brothers when I was 13, to the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness. That first trip, when my dad deemed all of us old enough to finally take backpacking (my youngest brother was 8), was a scene right out of the ranks of classic cinematic camping-trips-gone-horribly-awry with the likes of The Great Outdoors with John Candy and Dan Aykroyd. My dad thought mixing elk sticks with macaroni and cheese (sans milk or butter) would be a good idea for dinner. It wasn't. He had heard of goldens in Island Lake and brookies in Fingerbowl, so of course the most direct route up the outlet creek from South Lake would be the best way to get there. It wasn't. I got a horrible case of altitude sickness, spent the day alternately throwing up and laying prostrate in the tent, and this experience thoroughly scared me away from associating "fun" and "backpacking" for four years, a veritable eternity when you're a teenager.

The only bright spot taken from that trip was the sunny afternoon I spent trying to coax a couple of colorful golden trout to rise to a dry fly in a pool on the tiny inlet stream to Island Lake. It took two hours and innumerable attempts to gently dap my fly down onto the head of the pool, but I finally got my fish.

Fast-forward four years to the summer before my senior year in high school when we were about to take a family vacation up to Alaska, where my uncle and aunt were park rangers at Glacier Bay National Park. My dad was acting like a kid about to enter a candy shop. For someone who had been obsessed with fishing ever since high school, when he would bike with his fishing buddies every day after school to get in a few casts before nightfall at the local East Bay reservoirs (when it was raining, they would tie flies and sell them to the fishing tackle stores in order to fund purchases of the next can't-miss lure), a fishing trip to Alaska was the Holy Grail of all trips. I was a teenager who had no interest in fishing and little interest in spending over a week away from his summer vacation and the baseball season.

Well, sometime between touching down in Gustavus, AK in a tiny bush plane and feeling the powerful surge of an 8-lb chum salmon against my spinning rod, my attitude towards fishing and the outdoors changed for good. Suddenly, I was the only one in my family volunteering to go on a day trip with my dad and uncle through some dense, bear-infested forest to the inlet of a local river where pinks were running. Suddenly, I was the person who was happily carrying a backpack with twenty pounds of salmon stuffed inside back through that same forest, all of us singing loudly in order to "warn" bears of our approach (as if the scent wafting out of my backpack wasn't already enough to turn me into a veritable walking feast). And when we had returned to California, suddenly I was the one who was asking my dad to go on another backpacking trip. Later that month we returned to the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness, and we spent two blissful days casting dry flies to little goldens until we could no longer see the rippling rises in the evening dusk. The transformation that had begun with that first shimmering golden four years earlier was complete, and I haven't looked back since.
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Post by hikerchick395 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:53 am

Luckily I have been in the out-of-doors my whole life. I know that I was camping in the Devils Postpile/Mammoth Lakes area before three months of age. Our family camped all over California (but never Yosemite) and the United States. Fishing, rock hounding, exploring.

Out of high school, I worked a year at a 6th grade camp...outdoor education for the sixth graders of our particular school district. The following summer, I took the class "Field Natural History of Southern California" which involved lots of field trips and learning about flora, fauna and geology. The next summer I took "Field Natural History of the Sierra Nevada." This involved a field trip into the Sierra for our studies. On our drive to our trip, we took 395 up to over Tioga Pass into a stop at Tuolumne (exquisite despite the drought) then we drove by Yosemite Valley, with just a glimpse from the highways. (What class like that would pass up such geologic wonders as the valley, but we were running short of time.) Our hike started that night out of Bear Division Dam. I had a few enlightening days backpacking into the high country, but had to be flown out with a knee injury on Friday the 13 of August.

My interest had been sparked. I visited Yosemite the next year, pleading with people to drive me there. It was glorious, despite, again, the severe drought. I was convinced I needed to work near the out-of-doors again so applied for work at Yellowstone and Yosemite. Got jobs at both locations but picked Yosemite. Imagine my surprise when I reported for work in April to find the incredible scene in the valley after a wet winter. Holy cow! Waterfalls everywhere! It was heaven. I worked and lived near the roar of Yosemite Falls and across from Camp 4. It was the hey day of climbing in the valley and I dabbled a bit, but like Wandering Daisy, death and severe injury put a damper on desire. I only worked there for a season.

I now had a car and was free to explore on my own. I visited the Sierra as much as possible. I got a surfer boyfriend and turned him into a hiking enthusiast. We got married in Yosemite Valley. And moved to the Eastern Sierra four years later.

This summer it will be 35 years since my first backpack into the Sierra.

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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Post by CI_Seawolf » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:56 pm

I guess it all had to start for me a first, little guy of about 4 camping in Big Bear with a canvas cabin tent that my dad had borrowed from my great uncle. My dad had camped with his parents during his young years in Colorado and had field experience in the Army and National Guard. We got our own tent and started camping in a semi military fashion in about 1965 (including S.O.S. for breakfast). My mom read Wind And The Willows to my sister and me just before we racked out in our sleeping bags in Yosemite, and Shady Rest Campground in Mammoth in 1966 or 67. We graduated to a tent trailer in around '67 -68 and visited Utah and the Eastern Sierra and Big Bear frequently. Camping was always a treat, and sometimes we even got to miss school to go. When I got to be about 11, my dad stated looking into a pack trip like he used to take when he was a youngster in Colorado. Either the summer of '71 or '72 we packed in to Walker Meadow out of Leavitt Meadows Pack station for a week with my beloved Great Uncle Charlie. It was a great experience and my first recalled fishing with wild Sierra backcountry rainbow and brook trout fishing. We saw a couple of hikers during our trip. It was mostly roadside fishing for a few years after that until about 74-75.

My first backpacking trip was in the Angeles National Forest, somewhere around Mt. Baden-Powell. My dad, his g/f, and a couple that they knew and myself took off up the side of a mountain headed for a place called Manzanita Springs. It was late spring and a little warm. The lady of the couple that came with us was a "candy freak" We had bags and bags and bags of it. I think we finally thinned it out to about ten pounds of candy. I had a rectangular sleeping bag, and my pack was a knock off that my dad had found at a store in Downtown Los Angeles called the "Famous Department Store". One thing about the Angeles range that year, it was really dry. We ate our terrible freeze dried Rich-moor dinner, and there was a spring nearby that we had to share with a boy scout troop and several other hikers, including some cranky old dude that had to shave (including shaving cream) at the only water supply for a couple of miles.

My dad took me on several more weekend trips, mostly around the Bishop creek drainage, on one particular trip, I recall hearing Tricky Dick Nixon resign and had to ask my dad "What's a Gerald Ford?"

In high school, I actually got to take an elective class in backpacking tought by an old PE coach. He got a few of us to spend the $1 required to obtain an REI membership and I dreamed of getting better equipment to hike and camp with.

After high school, I was recruited for one of Troutdog and his brother's expeditions to fish for goldens. That trip is still one of the most awesome experiences that I can ever remember.

I've been away from backpacking for a long time, but am looking forward to getting back into it again and would love to do a French Canyon / Humphrey's Basin trip.

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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Post by Snow Nymph » Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:49 pm

I started when I was 24 y/o. An old boyfriend borrowed his parents motorhome for a week, so I sent my son to summer camp, and experienced my first Sierra trip

- North Lake: My first backpack, got AMS bad, stashed packs by Loch Leven, descended, slept in the motorhome, hiked back up next day and continued backpack to Piute Lake. Hiked in snow, drank from a waterfall, animal tracks across the frozen snow covered lake in the morning, and found a dead deer part way to Piute Pass. Even tho I was sick, I fell in love with the Sierra.

- Bridgeport: We camped at Twin Lakes, hiked to Green Lake, came back in the dark and a group of people with flashlights were on their way to look for us since we didn't return.

- Mammoth - camped at Lake Mary. I think we had a bear in camp that night.

- Palm Spring Tram: We walked down the path, walked around the area, stopped for a cigarette before heading back to the tram, passed out on the way and remember people saying it happened to a lot of people. 2 years later I finally quit smoking. Hiking was more important, and smoking gave my son nosebleeds, it took awhile to figure out the connection (hemophiliac)

By the end of the week, I fell in love with the mountains and kept going back every chance I had. I took my son to Idyllwild when he was young. It wasn't til ~'92 that I started going once a month, then by '97 or '98 every weekend.
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Post by rlown » Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:35 pm

rlown wrote:
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.
As I had some time to sift through old photos with my Mom, I found the photo. I was wrong on many accounts. It was a 19.5" trout; I was just 4 years old. The color of the rod was correct.. :)

Anyway, here's the evidence:
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