Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Best Memorial Day to Date

I don't mean the best Memorial Day for dating. I don't know about that. Maybe it was. But it certainly was my best experience with a Memorial Day thus far in my life.

What made it so fabulous, you ask?

Well, it's because I went to the woods!

Yup, I went backpacking, and I loved it. We hiked on the Tar Gap trail to Hockett Meadow in Sequoia National Park.

Sigh.

I'm just thinking about how absolutely fabulous it was. There is so much to say, to the point of gushing, really, and I will try my best to gush my little heart out.

Well, just so you know, according to the directions we had to the trailhead, the last 20 miles was suppose to take us about 2 hours to drive. When Elizabeth told me this I said, "Say what?!" That was a most natural reaction. She said she felt the same way. It turns out we had to go on this crazy curvy road up the canyon to get to the ranger station in Cold Springs campground. So, after curve...umm...600, we finally made it, and talked with the Ranger and obtained our permit.

The Ranger was a kind, gentle old man with evil and danger lurking in his heart. He started to warn us of the difficulties of the trail we had chosen, of the thunderstorm they were expecting, and of the two difficult stream crossings, and if we get to the streams and decide we need to turn back, there is another trail we could attempt, but we'd have to go back down the mountain 20 minutes to the trail head, and were we sure we wanted to risk our lives on such a journey as the Tar Gap Trail?

I was basically shaking in my boots, as river crossings are the one thing that causes vicious turmoil in my soul and body, and I was ready to head back down the mountain when all the guys and Elizabeth said, "Let's do the dangerous one! Yeah! That sounds like fun!"

Jeez.

So I swallowed my tongue and prepared for take-off.



The trail was simply gorgeous. It felt (and looked) like we were the first hikers of the season. That first afternoon was so exciting, as the thunderstorm danced all around us and the wind rushed through the trees.

Pretty soon I had to face my fear of the stream crossing. Everyone was very helpful in getting me across the stream. I had a lot of time to think about what worries me the most about the crossings, and I have decided that it is because I don't want to fall off a log or a rock and into the water and get injured or swept downstream and drown. Turns out I have zero qualms about walking into and through the stream, so that is what I did on most of the crossings, which turned out to be about twelve, not two.

I think people generally look pretty goofy in backpacking pictures, so here we are, looking a bit goofy:

Elizabeth and I under a fallen tree. There were TONS of fallen trees on our trail.


And the guys, trying to kill themselves on three logs of various instability. After that little waterfall there was a flat part, and I just walked across on wet ground. No big deal. No log ghetto rigging, no fear of death.


And the Malletts. Looking at something...


And there's Kyle, up on that fallen tree...Crazy...


When I wasn't taking pictures of people, I took pictures of things on the ground.
This is a blue egg. I've never seen one before. Well, I've seen blue Easter eggs, but they don't count.


And, of course, I took a picture of these weird orange things.


This next picture is perhaps my favorite. Please notice the reflection of the sky in the water beside the flowers.


Man, I haven't even mentioned one of the coolest things about this trail!

SNOW!



Hiking in snow was so much fun! I don't know how fun it is to camp in snow, but hiking through it for 35% of our journey was certainly fun.

It was even fun when I stepped onto this log (stupid log), slipped, and totally fell on my face in the snow.

I ended up falling a lot in the snow, but it was fun every time.


While I was busy resting, I took this picture:


Naturally, with all those stream crossings, I was always taking off and putting on my boots. During one rest period while I was putting on my boots, I smelled onion. I don't usually smell like onion, so I knew it wasn't me. I looked up from my task and said, "Did someone eat onion?" Everyone denied such an accusation, and as I reached for my other boot I spotted chives! Chives, growing in the woods!


We gathered some to add to our dinner. It was so awesome.

The first afternoon we hiked 4 miles in, and spent the night at Deer Creek. I never saw any deer. But I did see a fabulous sunset.


I've never been able to capture a sunset, and this is quite honestly the best I've ever been able to do, and it's not even that great.


You can't actually hear the water by looking at this picture, but I figured I should let you try to imagine it.





The second day we hiked 8 miles to Hockett Meadow.



It was beautiful. It was awe inspiring. I almost wrote a poem about it.

I have a lot of pictures of this meadow, and its beauty and the feeling certainly don't translate to film, but I don't care. I'm posting a lot of pictures anyway.


Do you see the deer? It was so cool to watch them jump over the water.


I really wanted to see a bear, but we didn't get one. Just deer and a marmot in the Meadow.

This Meadow had a Ranger Station. No one was there, however, and we had the pleasure of exploring the Meadow without any other hikers. Two other groups did come to the Meadow around dinnertime, but the afternoon was ours of solitude.



I used old ski poles on my journey. Everyone else preferred to use sticks they found and get their hands all sappy.

There was a stream on one end of the Meadow, and I quickly became obsessed.


I walked up and down this stream, taking pictures and cooling my feet. The water felt phenomenal.


I love that stream...

During my stream walk, I found this flower:

It was pretty, and plus, I needed a new desktop background photo for my computer and phone.


Some men, tending to the fire:


And a Myriah, tending to the food:



The next morning, after some spectacular views,


Some log-stick fighting,


And some potential blisters,


We hiked all the way back down to Cold Springs campground.

It was so great.

The weather was magnificent. The trail perfect. And there weren't even any bugs to bother us.

As we were driving up the mountain we had crossed a cool bridge, and I ended up getting a picture of it on our way down the mountain.


Also, in the town at the base of the mountain we saw a large metal cow with the words, "Fresh Pomegranate Juice," written above it's head. This was the only proof we obtained:


I've included a video because I have a video. Why do I have a video, you ask? Well, because every time someone asked Mike to take a picture, he would take a video. You will say, "Are you taking a picture?" and he will say, "Yeah, I'm taking a video."




It was a fabulous trip. Now it's time to go to bed, or get back to work, because I'm sure it took you like an hour to read this thing.

7 comments:

Ky said...

There is too much for me to digest here in one go, so I'm going to have to give it another try during naptime tomorrow.

I really love that little ranger station. Especially how it says the elevation, which you really appreciate.

I also like the crystal light packet in your camelbak dealio.

And that picture of the robin egg--there is so much nature in it. When you enlarge it, you can see that not only is there an egg, but a little plant sprouting right next to it. It is sooo nature.

I think those orange things are snake eggs. I just know these things.

Marissa said...

Those are some awesome pictures. I am glad that your first backpacking experience was a good one. So I was pretty sure that those orange things were fungus so I looked it up, the scientist in me couldn't resist. I am pretty sure they are "orange-peel fungus." They are a cup fungus. Nature is awesome. Are you going to come camping with us next month?

Amanda said...

Wow, I'm jealous. Really.

Myriah said...

Marissa, YES, I am going camping with you next month. No doubt. It's gonna be great. And, "orange-peel fungus", huh? It's weird. I don't get it. Maybe they are orange-peel fungus snake eggs.

Paul said...

Yay I am glad that you will be there camping with us! Audrey needs her Aunt Myriah to teach her all about nature. Yep, orange-peel fungus, basically a mushroom that looks like orange peels. I think the name is fitting.
(BTW, this is really Marissa, his email is open so it is making me comment as him and I am too lazy to sign him out and then comment as me.)

Claire said...

this looks like a fantastic trip. i wish i was there. i'm glad you guys had such a fun time.

Jodie said...

What a trip! When are you camping? Brandon will be in A-town from July 10th to 14th. Could it be around the same time? Are the planets aligned???