Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Backpacking--The Ascent

After an epic twelve hour drive through Arizona and California (hello Mojave Desert!) we made it to the Dinkey Creek Campground (in the Sierras) at 10pm. The monkeys were already asleep in the car so we just carried them to the tent once it was set up. We woke up bright and early, had some breakfast, packed everything up, and then had a quickie tour of the campground. Warren lived and worked there for three seasons in the early nineties. So he showed us where his trailer was, his favorite giant trees, where to find the good pine cones, the best swimming spots, etc. Then we made the drive to the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness Trailhead.

Unfortunately a snowbank prevented us from actually getting to the trailhead, so we had to park a mile or two away. Since we were all super excited about our adventure, we didn't let this minor bump in the road get us down. (We also didn't realize how far we actually were from the trailhead!)

It took us about three hours to get our backpacks packed. Turns out we had a LOT of gear to bring. When you are backpacking you have to bring everything you need to survive--clothes, food, tent, water filter, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.

Once we had everything packed, we set forth. It didn't take long to realize we might have a problem. The monkeys needed to rest about ten feet down the road. Their packs were too heavy and the high elevation was making our hike extra difficult.

Warren's reward for being the strongest was that he got to carry the kids' backpacks in addition to his own (very heavy pack).

After awhile, I carried Jiro's pack while Warren carried Satchel's. Then every so often Satchel would take a turn carrying his or Jiro's pack. I'm not going to lie--it was rough! We were all pretty knackered by the time we made it to the trailhead. I even suggested we camp there for the night! Warren, however, was undeterred. He encouraged us to keep going and let us take breaks every few minutes. We literally had to snack at each break just to get energy for the next haul. We started at 8400 feet elevation and went up from there.

There was tons of snow over the winter so all of the creeks were really high and the mosquitoes were out of control.

Getting away from the mosquitoes actually became our main motivation for pushing forward. Warren promised us that they wouldn't be as bad on top of the mountain peak where we planned to set up camp.

All along the way, the monkeys were real troopers. Jiro was a natural at finding and following the trail and Satchel was thrilled by every bug and critter that we found.

Our 8km hike took about seven hours and we were facing sunset as we made our final approach, which would land us just shy of 10,000ft.

Warren decided to stash his pack so that he could get his worn out whiney family up the mountain. He carried mine and Jiro's and I wore Satchel's. We got to the top just as the sun was setting. I wanted to cry tears of joy, but I was too tired. The kids and I set up the tent while Warren went back down the mountain alone to get his pack. I tried to act like that didn't scare the crap out of me. Once the tent was up, we were in it. One minute I was talking to the kids and then next minute they were fast asleep. I tried to nap too so I wouldn't think about a mountain lion attacking Warren in the dark as he made his way back up the mountain, but I couldn't. My mantra was, "He's done this hike a million times, he enjoys this kind of thing."

After an hour or so, I heard Warren calling from below. He secured the tent some more and then we all went to sleep. It was the best night's sleep I've ever had.

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