October has the most predictably human perfect weather hereabouts. Days are warm, nights are cool, and it rarely rains; so if you’re planning an outdoor wedding reception, a company picnic, or a family reunion, go with October.
October in my opinion is also the best time to grab your backpack and fishing pole and head up to the High Sierra to clear your head and lungs, test your mettle against the mountain, and spend some time in a world unchanged for eons.
That’s what my buddy and fellow organic peach farmer Paul and I did the last 4 days. We always try to go somewhere we’ve never been, so this time we went out of Lodgepole in Sequoia National Park.
That bestseller from a dozen years back—Life’s Little Instruction Book—said to choose a doctor your own age so you can get advice from somebody who’s experiencing the same things you are. I think that’s good advice when choosing a hiking partner as well. So we’re heading up Silliman Pass which is a bit over 10,000 feet elevation and 3,500 above Lodgepole. My poles are shortened up, I’m basically in four-wheel drive clawing my way up this thing, soaking wet and sounding like the little train that thought he could when the only guy we see all day, a 20 year old, passes us, dry as a bone like he’s out for a Sunday stroll. Paul and I look at each other and say: “We ain’t spring chickens anymore are we?” We laughed our heads off.
I know I write this every year after a back country trip, but it still amazes me that in a state with 37 million people, you can drive 2 hours and hike 5 and have millions of acres of beautifully landscaped parks, and gorgeous lakes full of trout all to yourself. The sky is brilliant blue; chipmunks are in their fall pinecone frenzy, sleek deer are browsing and a dip in the lake’s the perfect refreshment at the end of each day’s hike; amazing.
So the second night—fairly big moon so you can see pretty well—we’re solving the world’s problems by the fire while sipping some hot chocolate when we hear some large creature splashing in the lake. I grab my 3 inch SureFire® flashlight which lights up everything, and we cautiously head down there. Something really big, but it seems to be coming from behind an island on the other side; a bear running back and forth maybe? We listen and shine the light. SPLOOSH, SPLOOSH SPLOOSH! Whatever it is, it’s big.
“Ya wanna hike around there and see what it is?”
“You can if you want, but I’m not going over there, that thing’s big!”
This goes on for 20 minutes.
We go back and hang our food way up in a tree, build a huge fire and add to it during the night; big, wild, man-eating creatures are afraid of fire you know. Oh, and twice when I got up to feed the fire, I shined my light towards the lake and heard a SPLOOSH right next to our camp. Since I’m writing this, you know we made it.
Next morning, we head down to look for paw prints. Maybe a mountain lion had a deer in the lake? Nothing by the camp, so we start heading towards the other side when we hear the same sound; SPLOOSH SPLOOSH. Then we see it; High Sierra Nocturnal Quackless Killer Ducks I think they’re called. We never laughed so hard; two grown men afraid of ducks. We named that one Killer Duck Lake, seen in the picture here.
Well, the best part of this thing is I get to share my favorite things with all of you, like Clear Lake Bartlett pears, and pomegranates that crack their skin ’cause they’re so sweet. Watch out for killer ducks and