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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.

Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby Timberline » Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:00 pm

Great thread, everyone!
In my case, my dad was a capable woodsman and hunter who built his own cabin when he was 18; however he died when I was 8 years old, so in 1950 we moved to California. In those days, you could get an extended camping permit in state parks, so I spent my whole first summer in California living in Samuel P. Taylor Park in Marin County, catching crawdads in Lagunitas Creek, exploring redwood groves, and having a nightly campfire at the doorstep of our trailer with any other kids who happened to be there with their families, too. Later, living across the Bay, I joined Boy Scouts and spent two summer vacations at Wolfeboro on the Stanislaus River. I had an excellent, dedicated Scoutmaster who understood fatherless kids like me, and those days were times of wonder for me in lots of ways. We backpacked overnight up Highland Creek, and from then on I wanted to be in the wilderness as often as I could muster it. Later in high school, two buddies, bless 'em, made it possible with a car and weekend or summer fishing trips to the Carson Pass region. I was lucky enough while in college to find summer jobs with the Forest Service that paid me to go backpacking in the Sierra backcountry. So, when and where did it all start? I'd have to say, every time I've taken that first step on the trail, any trail, it has started again.
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby markskor » Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:51 pm

High school sophomore - (private Catholic school), late 60’s…newly transplanted family, now living San Fernando Valley (L.A.) from Ohio, and had never even thought about backpacking before - ever.
One of the school’s brothers/teachers (actually, the art teacher there) proposed a summer 5-week segmented backpacking adventure - a JMT trip (whatever that was?)...~$100/head, with all backpacks (Kelty Tiogas), (red)tube tents, sleeping bags, and all food provided – organized it too.

Sounded like a lot of work, but as he was my first art teacher, I raised my hand. The $100 would have to come from my paper route earnings but the boots I could not afford. I had to rely that my parents (who had never backpacked at all before either and were skeptical)- hoped they would get me a good pair of boots…Redwing Voyagers.
As I remember, 10 of us started out Yosemite Valley, and the plan was to trade packs and bags with the next shuttled-up group (another 10) at Reds...
After 1st leg, a few students had not showed/ dropped out last minute, (you know how that story goes), and since food was already pre-packaged/sorted for the next week for 10, they asked if anyone from the first week wanted to continue on another week for free.

Long story short - 5 weeks later at Whitney, I was hooked.
First backpacking trip = JMT = $100, plus the cost of boots...best money my parents ever spent on me.

BTW, thanks Brother E!
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:44 pm

Summer of '94 a good friend joined me on the final leg of my cross-country trip with the intention of introducing me to backpacking. After a warm-up trip in the Sangre de Cristo mountains in New Mexico, we headed to the Grand Canyon. Waking up to the sunrise on the edge of Horseshoe Mesa and I was hooked.


I grew up skiing, fishing, and car-camping in the Sierra Nevada a good amount, but I didn't start backpacking there until a few years after the Grand Canyon when my same friend and I did an early season (April) trip to Hamilton Lakes. Valhalla impressed us both and I wanted more Sierra trips. A few years after that we headed to Seven Gables Lakes and I was sold...the otherworldly environment calls to me.
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:57 pm

It started with family trips, which my dad led. I'm thinking the first trip to the Sierra might have been 1965 and would have been car camping (Tuolumne Meadows) and dayhiking--somewhere in the 1965-1966 range is a climb or at least an attempt on Mt. Hoffman. My first backpacking trip was in fall 1967 (I'm thinking probably October) to Pear Lake out of Wolverton and a climb of Alta Peak. This was just me and my dad and it set the stage for an ever escalating "trip of the year" that kept getting harder until our climactic trips in 1979 (2 day trip Lone Pine Pk, Irvine, Mallory, LeConte; latter in 2nd day w hike out and drive home) and 1980 (Split and Prater in 2 days via Taboose) but kept quite strong until at least 1988 (my dad celebrated 60th with a 3 day trip to do Seven Gables).

Without a doubt I owe the whole Sierra thing to my dad. As an unathletic young kid, I somehow had the tenacity for hiking and the like and I really enjoyed it. There was nothing I looked forward to more than those summer trips. This obsession crept into what I thought of as my 'dream girl'--a girl who would go backpacking with me. This didn't happen for me until 1981, the year after my senior year at Bezerkley, and that one only lasted one trip (LLV Treasure Lakes and climb of Mt Dade) although that trip ended up leading to a friend of mine marrying my cousin. I had a run with another girl from 1983-1986 (several trips a year), but it was Judy (my wife) who took things to another level starting in 1986. The sheer numbers of trips and days spent in the High Sierra went to a level it had never been at. This included longer and more difficult backpacking trips than I had ever attempted, the best of which were just me and Judy. During the years from 1981 onward, fishing gradually replaced peak bagging as my main reason for going to the High Sierra and my poor dad had but one trip a year reserved for him (my mom, fortunately, demanded that I do this one trip with him)--the annual strenuous peak bagging trip which we did around the time of his birthday. This kept up until his last moderately hard trip (Mt. Tom) in 1991, after which his hip, originally damaged in 1977 on a fall on Mt Goddard, really shut him down for backpacking, with the first sign of kryptonite rearing up in 1992 as we backpacked off trail to Burro Lakes above Lundy Canyon. He did his last backpack with me in 1995 and with it climbed his last 14,000er (Langley). Taking a year off in 1996 as a result of a massive heart attack and septuple bypass surgery, he bounced back to climb Gibbs with me and Judy in 1997 and did his very last Sierra peak, a climb of Dicks Peak with me and Judy in 1998 (hike in which Judy and I first tasted mackinaw success at Gilmore) about a year and a half before his death of pancreatic cancer in early 2000.

In any case my Sierran obsession started with my dad. I hope that the trips Judy and I take Dawn (5) and Lee (to turn 9 in April) will be as magical for them. They've been on one backpacking trip each of the last 3 summers and multiple dayhikes and car camping trips each year. Almost daily Dawn will look up at the mountains and say "Daddy, can we go to the mountains?" Lee will actually mention that fact that his absurdly heavy school pack (what on Earth to they make kids put in their packs these days, anyway?) helps get him in shape for backpacking.
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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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby Ozark Flip » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:56 am

It started with family trips, which my dad led

Same here GB. I grew up horse packing with family. I was raised on a rather large farm (just shy of 500 acres) with both dairy and horse businesses. We had around 15-25 horses at any given time, always buying, selling and trading. We broke horses, bred horses, shoed horses, and even showed horses. We were also big with the rodeo circuits. My father packed horses for hunting trips primarily and I starting going on these trips before I could even shoot a large caliber rifle. Just to hang with the big boys and tell big boy stories. What “hooked” me was the remoteness and feeling of solitude, a feeling that not many people have seen this or done this.

Neat stories,

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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby John Dittli » Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:30 am

long ago in a place far, far away
FIRST TRIP corrected.jpg

Actually, started in the Marble Mountain Wilderness (Pop would never go to the Sierra "to crowded")

First trip in the Sierra would have been the TY trail with a few neighborhood friends. We were 13-14 and unsupervised for three weeks. Some how managed to pull it off.

YB 3.jpg

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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby Pulpit » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:05 am

Growing up in New Jersey, it started with friends as teenagers with weekend car camping trips with dayhikes off the sandy backroads of the Pine Barrens National Preserve, with occasional trips up to the "mountains" near the Delaware Water Gap in the NW corner of the state. These trips were usually organized by a friend from my childhood neighborhood, who is 12 or 13 years older than myself and my usual gang of friends. Growing up in the suburban flatlands outside of Philadelphia I give him all the credit to opening my eyes up to the wonders of the outdoors. My parents were not overly outdoorsy folks outside of my father's occasional pheasant hunting trips in Maryland where he grew up.

As we got older and our horizons started to expand, we decided to try our hand at a 4 day backpacking trip and picked the northern half of the Appalachian Trail in Smoky Mountains NP for the pilot journey. 5 of us made the journey, woefully understocked on food, but still had a great time and that trip unequivocally whet our appetites for backpacking. Many trips, mostly 3-4 nighters, up and down most every state of the Appalachians, came to pass in the years to come.

My brother then moved to San Diego for work about 8 years ago, which opened up the possibilities of affordable and logistically uncompromising trips to CA. My first trip to the Sierras was a 3 nighter out of TM out over Cathedral Pass to a little lake where we set up a base camp along Matthes Crest and did day hikes. I was "in love" with the experience of the High Sierra to say the least. We have done two more trip since the first, Big Pine Lakes and the 1000 Island Lake area of the AA Wilderness and now the lust has grown to the point where it will take many obstacles to deny us a yearly trip to the Sierras. It looks as if this year's trip is going to be in the Emigrant Wilderness somewhere.

I'd love to retire to the Bishop area someday and live out the golden years hiking and trout fishing in the Eastern Sierra.
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby East Side Hiker » Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:30 am

My infatuation began when I was 11 and, as a Boy Scout, we did the JMT. I've done it 6 more times since then. Not to mention all the years thereafter as a wilderness ranger, peak bagger, and general adventurer.
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Re: When, and where did it all start?

Postby 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?

Postby 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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