Our first summer in the Sierra

Dreams can come true.

Mr. Muir’s book about his first summer up here tends towards the ecstatic. I mean, “The very rocks seem to thrill with life” – rocks? Come on now, let’s get ahold of ourselves. But after our Sierra trips I’m now on board with this outlook. “The whole landscape glows like a human face in the glory of enthusiasm.” Sounds about right.

I might forget some of what we learned in our adventures, so I will make note of some greenhorn tips right here. We are all greenhorns now.

Your best days are in the ‘shoulder season’, just before and just after the kids are on their summer vacations. And even in this quieter time, aim for the Sunday through Wednesday window if you’re going to be camping at a popular location. Some of those popular camps aren’t that great, I say. They’re just fully booked because you can make reservations online. Look for campgrounds that don’t take reservations. We now have three, reliably available, ‘secret spot’ Sierra campgrounds in our back pocket.

A 2000 ft. climb starting at sea level is a lot easier than the same climb starting at 7000 ft. We both know that. But your hiking preparation at sea level has gone really well, and you will start that hike at 7K with great confidence. Soon you will be saying, wow is it hot!, and what the hell is in this pack!, and I’m getting rid of this extra water – it’s too heavy!, and I’m out of water! Greenhorns, listen up: back off just a tad from that ambitious trip plan.

If all Americans followed our consumer activity, REI would be the largest corporation the world has ever known. I must call out one item for special recognition from the car camping rig. Cots. I now divide my life into two parts; the years before we acquired cots, and everything after. And another thing I can heartily recommend is my Osprey Daylite pack. It weighs next to nothing, is very comfortable, holds a ton of stuff, and can be attached to my Goblin backpack if needed.

Farewell, Sierra Nevada. You were good.

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