"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."
Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien.
"If you wish to be happy, think not of what is to come nor of that which you have no control over but rather of the now and of that which you can change."
Oromis, Brisingr, Christopher Paolini.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quiet weekends

We spent the long weekend down in Mammoth Lakes, CA with my ILs. It seemed more like Christmas than Memorial Day due to freezing temperatures and falling snow. Tioga Pass had opened for the summer last Wednesday, but was closed again by the time we reached Lee Vining on Friday afternoon.

We hit the Reno Squeeze In on our way out of town. Good breakfast!

On Saturday we took the kids to see the Mule Days parade in Bishop, and then for a swim at Keough's Hot Springs.

The weather was rather unpleasant in Mammoth on Sunday, so we went hiking at Panum Crater and went to the Mono Lake visitor center. DS and DD1 enjoyed the Junior Ranger workbooks. We stopped for lunch at the Mobil station Whoa Nellie Deli. (Our favorites are the mango margaritas and lobster taquitos!) It was eerily quiet with the pass closed; usually the place is packed to the gills with people waiting to order, but this time we walked straight to the front of the line. No visitors from Yosemite makes quite a difference.

Last weekend we went camping at Eagle Lake, just north of Susanville, CA. This was our first trip there, although we've driven past the eastern shore on our way home from Oregon. It's not a long drive, and the setting is gorgeous. We especially appreciated how cool it was; Reno and Susanville were experiencing scorching temperatures.

We stayed in the Merrill campground. This was the first time we've visited a NF CG with hookups. The loops closest to the road have full electric/water/sewer, the next loops electric/water, and the lakefront loops no hookups. It was well maintained, clean, and beautiful. We opted for a site somewhat back from the shore in an attempt to avoid mosquitos, but every site has a lake view. The mosquitos found us anyway!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hike Your Own Hike

Have you noticed how some people are either threatened or critical when others choose to do something differently from how they do it? It apparently matters not what the topic is; just look at any online forum for examples.

My mind keeps going back to a conversation I had in our local Starbucks last Friday. I was paying for our drinks, and the gal at the register asked if we had any plans for the weekend. I replied that we were going camping. Innocent, meaningless, but friendly chatter. The dude making the coffee asked what my "definition" of camping is. This probably should have been a sign. I explained that we are pretty varied campers, we like backpacking, but that we were taking our tent trailer out that weekend.

snort "If it has wheels, it's not camping. It has to be at least a tent." Perhaps a tad aggressive if he's wanting me to come back and spend more money at the Evil Empire, but whatever. I'm feeling good, and we're on our way out of town. The gal at the register asks if we're making s'mores "because you have to have s'mores!" I pass this test (for this trip, at least). Phew. But no, according to the dude, the essential item is dutch oven peach cobbler. I fail again.

This is a prime example of the pitfalls of thinking that our own way is the only way to do something. DH and I enjoy DO cooking. He has plenty of experience eating it from his packer days, and while I didn't grow up with it, I'm always willing to try something new. So some of the time we cook in dutch ovens while camping. We have only ever done this when camping with our PUP. That kind of trip, according to the coffee dude, isn't "camping," because although we're cooking in our DO, our shelter has wheels. The trips that might meet his definition based on shelter certainly wouldn't based on cooking method. I am dumbfounded that a backpacking trip using our Whisperlite couldn't be considered camping using his standard. Some, of course, might not consider our stove choice that of a "real" backpacker (and I freely admit I'm a wannabe!).

Luckily, my life doesn't grind to a halt due to lack of approval from the coffee dude. Mind your own business, do your own thing; hike your own hike.

Hawken FireWe returned from our trip to Australia last July to find that 2700 acres of open space behind our house had burnt in a wildfire while we were away. The Hawken Fire was determined to be the result of a grinder being used on a construction site without water available on site. Our mountain view has been somewhat less scenic since then. I often walk in the hills behind our house in the evening, and have been thrilled recently to see the wildflowers blooming in the ashes.

According to an announcement this afternoon on the emergency alert system, we are expecting temperatures 20 degrees higher than normal this weekend. The kids are getting in the spirit of the warm weather!

We are heading out camping tomorrow. If I'm allowed to call it that...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Vicarious hiking

PCT access near Donner PassEach year for more than a decade I have been following the online journals of Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers. These days, of course, there are a lot more journals online. Some of them are even updated electronically from the trail, rather than written with pen and paper and mailed home to a transcriber from town stops (as all were when I first started reading them). Most thru-hikers start in the spring, hiking north from the Mexican border towards the Canadian border, but a few intrepid souls hike the opposite direction starting in the summer. After a few weeks I've usually narrowed my journal list down to a few favorites; hikers whose writing style really appeals to me. Some make it all the way, some don't, but it's always an honor to share their journeys.

I would love to thru-hike the PCT someday. At this point in my life it's not possible, as I have three young children and a husband with an irregular work schedule. Disappearing for several months to hike 2650 miles (and needing support along the way) just doesn't fit with my responsibilities. I do draw some comfort from the seemingly increasing numbers of "older" thru-hikers; perhaps it's not unrealistic to think that I might embark on this journey once my children are somewhat self-sufficient.

DH is not especially drawn to the idea of a PCT thru-hike. He did mention recently that he might consider a southbound hike, but otherwise is not interested. He has his own dreams, as he should.

I am not an especially hard-core nor experienced backpacker. I camped and bushwalked growing up, but did not have any opportunity to backpack. My first backpacking trip was in the summer of 1992, when my mother and I accompanied my brother's Boy Scout troop on a four day trip in Sequoia & King's Canyon National Park. I loved it.

My boyfriend (now DH) had worked for many years packing mule trains into the Sierras, and his impression of backpacking was not favorable; he thought they all looked miserable and very hungry! After I promised that he wouldn't go hungry, he agreed to go backpacking in Glacier National Park with me that September. We had a great time, although we carried far too much food. ;)

We unfortunately stopped backpacking when DS was born, but have covered many miles on day hikes, whether from a base camp or from home. DS spent almost every weekend of his first spring and summer in a child carrier hiking in the Cascades. We have hiked considerably less since we had three children, but are hoping for a good hiking summer this year now that DD2 is 3 and a good walker.

Since I am many years away from a PCT thru-hike, I have decided to start keeping track of my miles on the PCT. Starting today: 0 miles hiked, 2650 remaining!

We had a fun Mother's Day weekend Kamping. The kids made a nice friend in the first 5 minutes we were there. I think DH and I are about done with RV-ing style camping, as the kids seem to focus on the wrong things. We're looking forward to some trips to the National forests!