Backpacking along the Pacific Crest Trail. In the last eight years, I’ve hiked about fifteen miles of it, in four segments forty miles north of the Mexican border at the edge of the desert, and in mountains of southern California and in Yosemite. There are things that people my age long to do – putting them on a “bucket list”, and then there are the things that people my age actually DO. With my weight loss and wanting to challenge myself, it has been on my mind.
A few years ago I bought camping equipment, tents, cots, and all the gear for “car camping” and hiking. I’ve only made a few trips – when I didn’t fall ill or the plans with family and friends did not get rescheduled. With my nearing retirement, these will get used a lot more. A couple of my retired and semi-retired friends are avid hikers and campers – tent camping – and go out a few times each year to Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park and elsewhere. I will go with them to the local mountains near San Diego, or in the San Gabriel mountains between Los Angeles and Palm Springs. But I also enjoyed a weekend with the Missus hiking around near Idyllwild, California.
Now that one of our friends completed (braving snow covering part of the trail) a forty-mile June backpacking trip with her daughter and son-in-law, walking out to their pick-up point in Tuolumne in the upper Yosemite, my wife is again motivated to add to our adventures. Apparently, a movie I just watched this evening, A Walk In the Woods (2015) with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte was the inspiration for Ivy’s adventure. I knew their family is athletic – competitive runners particularly, but did not know that Ivy had been in training this year for the Sierras. It may have been the same phenomenon a few years ago, when Reese Witherspoon’s movie Wild came out. Many backpacking novices tripled the usual would-be through-hikers that the Park Service saw on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) for at least the next couple years. My wife wanted us to do the PCT. I reminded her that there were often hundreds of miles between warm beds and showers.
It is not that I am staid and lack adventure. I’ve gone out to Yosemite and hiked with my buddies up past Nevada Falls – which was no small feat for an out-of-shape 56 year old. I’ve hiked down and back up the Grand Canyon South Rim in a day ( a long day) with several of the same buddies. Scuba diving in my thirties in various oceans, and walking around foreign cities armed only with a gift of the gab – Spanish, French, Russian, and some words in Japanese and Turkish.
At twenty-two, I went to visit my college buddy who moved to Denver, Colorado over the summer. We rode steel racing bikes around for miles. (This was in the Eighties, when only a few well-financed racing fanatics could afford the carbon-fiber bikes just introduced) Out of money (College student and broke – not unusual) for a ticket home, I rode the bike south and west five hundred miles home to Tucson, Arizona. Camping by the side of the rode. Sleeping in a bus station. When I had flat tires and could not patch them anymore – I walked fifteen miles in the July summer heat through Phoenix – until a trucker pitied me and picked me up. I finished the trip with a few bucks given to me.
When I was a kid, growing up for a time in New England, one of my most memorable experiences was a week-long backpacking trip into the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It probably would have been a different sort of tale had my forgotten hiking boots not been brought the three hour drive by other hikers (it was a YMCA-sponsored trip) arriving the following day.
But I live adventure. Maybe I’ll offer that we take a freighter to Europe and walk/ bus/ train our way across west to the Americas? It’s not like Around the World in Eighty Days – I think somebody in the world would launch a SAM and bring us down. What would Dexter and Comet do then without us?
Let’s just start with a trip to the local mountains, and see where that goes.
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