Backcountry or bust. Can I do this?
Hetch-Hetchy Reservoir, Oct 2010
We humans are funny creatures. Circumstances being what they are, I believe that we are all given the choice to live the way we choose from a sovereign God who loves and wants the best for us. Many of us have opportunities to do things that we think are out of reach or beyond our abilities. With this in mind, I will try to articulate how I pushed my physical limits at the end of August 2011.
As a novice day hiker, I had been thinking about what it would be like to hike and camp off the beaten path. Car camping, while enjoyable to some people, just can’t be the same as roughing it miles away from civilization. One of my privileges is to work with our nation’s finest warriors at Camp Pendleton. So, when a couple of Marines asked me if I wanted to go on a 5 day backpacking trip into Yosemite, I thought – yeah, right. With the extra 20 lbs of midsection that I’ve been carrying, I could never do that – let alone carry a 30-40 lb. pack. So, I gave them a lame excuse and said no thanks. After hearing them talk about it a bit more, it started to eat at me.
Mary and I visited Yosemite in Oct 2010, did day hikes for 5 days, and logged 30 miles. On the hike down into the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, my knee hurt so bad from an old injury that afterwards we had to go to a drug store in town and buy a brace. One of the only things that kept me going on that hike was that we were being passed by children and older people. A litte stubbornness goes a long way. I also discovered that Ibuprofen is a wondrous drug for swollen joints and achy muscles. The descent down the Four Mile Trail was undoubtedly the second most painful walk ever. At the end of the day, the toenails on both my big toes were black and blue from hiking shoes that were too small. I learned how to walk like a crab downhill. However painful the long day hikes were, that week spent with Mary was an experience that will never be forgotten. When your eyes see views that are beautiful beyond description, they get written permanently on the brain. When you do this with your soulmate, it amplifies the event and makes it much more memorable. I fell in love with Yosemite, as this place was truly a testament of the creator. How awesome is His majesty.
After that trip, I started daydreaming about the place that John Muir helped make famous years ago. The pristine granite peaks and endless blue skies tantalized me to the point where one day when I heard the two Marines talking about the trip, I just blurted out to them – “Ok, I’ll go.” What was I thinking? I didn’t have much gear for a backcountry trip. Day hiking is pretty easy as far as equipment goes. A decent pair of trail shoes or boots, daypack, hydration and you are good to go. I had less than two months to get ready.
The trip to REI turned out to be one of my most expensive shopping trips ever. Getting fitted for a backpack, picking out sleeping bag, sleeping pad, waterproof storage bags…. I just love this store. It’s an outdoor enthusiasts Valhalla, kinda like a techie’s Fry’s. The trip was rapidly approaching and we started to discuss our routes. How many miles could we do per day? Where should we camp? Will there be enough water? Man, lots of planning sure goes into these trips.
Next….. Johnny and the Marines go for broke.