Labor day weekend is always a one of the biggest backpacking weekends or the year, 2014 did not disapoint.
My two oldest sons and I packed up for a few days in the wilderness, gassed up the Bronco and headed up the hill. First through Prather, then Shaver, past China Peak and finally up the big climb of Kaiser Pass Rd.
On the ride up the boys laughed and talked about how the three of us had always wanted to take just such a trip and on this day it was finally happening. Reflecting on this made me happy as it was easy to tell how much this trip would mean to them as growing young men and into their futures, it was a good moment in being a father.
We set out from Kaiser Pass and made our way cross-country to Lower Twin Lake bagging a few of the lower peaks on Kaiser Ridge for day one. Walking with the boys and being able watch them get excited as we saw our first deer. Their eyes bright and wearing huge smiles as they asked questions about where I thought she might go, how old she was, how she could get away so fast and quiet. Soon though the newness and the emotions of starting out faded meaning it wasn’t long until they were begging for a “real” trail” and not this up and down crazy hike well above 9000 feet. Once we hit Potter Pass they rejoiced like they had just caught a Derrick Carr touchdown pass, so much in fact I half expected a pine cone to get spiked in the endzone. Alas they refrained from that dance party and we moved on. As the old hound in the group I was barely able to keep pace down the trail to Lower Twin, yet they were having the times of their lives and all of this without an iPod or music/games ect and I was doing my best to not lag behind seeing I had the map and most of the food.
We made camp, the boys each in a one man tent and I in my bivy sac a few feet away. We, or I should say they pumped water, ate a Mountain House meal which Ash proclaimed “AMAZING”, had freeze-dried ice cream and played Hunger Games on the mountain side. ( apparently Hunger games in hide and seek where you are both it and not it at the same time. Just don’t get caught! ) They also got my camera and took a photo of me napping, thanks guys!
The way home we opted for a change went a new route through the Idaho Lake area on a non-maintained trail which meant cross-country.
We looked at all the different plants, I taught the boys the difference between a fresh track and an older one, examined a MONSTEROUS bear track…..and then another, and another.
It was the bear tracks that sparked the boy’s interest in finding the car so I pulled out the map and compass, found a direct cross-country route and off we went.
Hitting the peak and the short hike back to the vehicle the boys went from tired and cranky wanderers to full of energy mini Backcountry Rangers. It’s funny how the words one more mile will change a boy but it worked.
I’m glad for my boys that they get to grow up with true wild places still to explore and in my prayers so will their children. It’s the wild places that hold our past and our future. If we ever lose those wild places I fear we will lose what little we have left of being wild ourselves.
So take your kids hiking, or backpacking, or to a National Park. Lucky for FresYes we have so many options right here in the Valley.
Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon National parks are all within a few hours of FYI and the world comes here to explore what we call our backyard. We are lucky to be Fresnans, we have more National Parks, lakes for play, rivers to fish and trails to hike within one tank of gas than any other major city in California.
Once you have mastered those find a trail that leads someplace wild and take a hike. They will love you for it.
Aldo Leopold said it best with the following words.
“I am glad I will not be young in a future without wilderness”