So, Paul and I each have our raisins down and they don’t need much management to lay there on their paper beach chairs in the sun and change from green and juicy to chocolate brown and wrinkly—grapes have been doin’ that all by themselves for thousands of years—so we finally took the chance to pull our backpacks out of the attic, stuff our sleeping bags, and head up to the High Sierra.
We see them every morning and most days their wise white heads looking down on us with pity as if to say: “You pathetic creatures. Look at you down there struggling and striving like a bunch of ants under the hot sun. Moving stuff from one place to another, battling weeds and disease, and worried about everything. Why don’t you come up here? It’s cool. None of our plants are weeds; they just are. Even mosquitoes have a purpose feeding trout. Leave your shovels and come see!”
I’ve tried to explain to those hard-headed Sierras that they just don’t understand. If we don’t keep pushing, the world would probably stop spinning, people would go hungry… They just look a bit sad—like a parent whose kid has to learn about gravity for himself—and disappear behind each afternoon’s thunderhead to take a shower.
We hiked out of Courtright in the John Muir Wilderness. We both agreed it was our best hike ever, but I really can’t explain why. Maybe in our 60’s, we both realize these trips are numbered so we’d better savor each step, flower, and tree.
Anyway, we hiked about 40 miles in 3 ½ days. We visited 6 different Alpine lakes around 10,000 feet in elevation. Only one—Lower Indian—had any human visitors other than us, and they ended-up being neighbors. At home, we wouldn’t have had time to visit, but up there, what’s time?
So, here’s the eyewitness report regarding your wilderness. In that 9-11,000 foot band, the Tamarack Pine is the only tree species. It’s designed to handle cold & harsh and it wasn’t affected in the least by the drought; they just are. From a distance, things look sparse, but up close, every square inch that isn’t solid granite is productively active.
Ants are steadily harvesting and storing. Any 10-yard square has 10 different plant species. And those darned gophers, you gotta hand it to ‘em, their tribe can make it even without my peach trees and lawn.
We had some totally moonless and cloudless nights, and oh my goodness… Awestruck, speechless, overwhelmed. Guys, there are a bazillion stars our street lights have stolen from us, but the good news is, they’re just a day’s hike away.
Now every farmer knows there’s a storm on the equinox, so we hiked back 14 miles to a lake maybe 4 miles up from the truck. Sure enough, about midnight, it started raining, then snow started sliding off our tent. We peek out at first light to winter wonderland and think: “If this keeps-up, we’re going to lose the trail!” Frozen fingers crammed packs, we got off the mountain, best hike ever!