Giving Back

Into the Sierras.

I was a lucky child.  Growing up I had parents who imparted a variety of wonderful things.  One of the best was the gift of rivers.  I have been running rivers since I was literally in the womb - at all times of year in all types of weather.  These trips have been a constant in my life that when shared with loved ones comprise perhaps my happiest memories.

Backpacking has been a relatively new(er) pursuit.  I have come to thoroughly enjoy it, maybe not on the same level as my love of rivers, but it has been an immensely satisfying journey thus far.   Perhaps one aspect that has been so great is "giving back" to my parents in a sense.  Even newer to the backpacking thing than myself I've found great satisfaction "getting them out" on multi-day trips.  In my mind it is but a small heartfelt thank you in return for them teaching me to find power in surging currents.

This trip, occurring in August of this past year was rewarding as my parents had always wanted to get out into the backcountry of the Sierras but had yet to do it.

We begin walking high above Yosemite Valley. 

Half Dome dominates the view.

Its late in the summer.  Some of the well known falls in the valley have dried up.  But up here, in the shadow of icons, intimate things are still happening.


Water is a perpetual host, and guests aplenty are out enjoying.  High Summer in the Sierras is a magical time.

Miles are slow to come by the first day.  The constant views - soaring granite - make it hard to grind out the miles.  Scenic gazing occurs frequently.

We make camp under a canopy of trees in the early afternoon.

The next day we begin climbing early.

Eventually we come out of the treeline and take lunch at the perimeter of a quiet meadow.  Its all smiles.

The morning of climbing pays off as views unfold all around us.

We head towards Sunrise High Sierra Camp.

Making camp early in the day we nestle into the shade.  Each person has a unique priority - sleep for some, booze for others, map reading for the curious.

And soon - the opening act of the evening entertainment.  We grab the best seats in the house and watch.  Transfixed.

The camp may be officially known as "Sunrise" - but the moon-rise isn't too shabby.

In the morning we bask in the reflected warmth of the giant granite slabs beneath us.  Down the valley, the High Sierra Camp folk are cooking a proper breakfast.  An aromatic cloud wafts over the valley smelling like bacon and pancakes.

The smell makes our meal of granola bars and instant coffee look particularly pathetic.  We decide to shove off.

More climbing begets more views.  We crest the highest point of our trek.

In the distance Cathedral Peak anchors the valley.

Within a few hours we reach upper Cathedral Lake.

We take the short spur trail leading to the lower of the two lakes where we make camp on a small spit of sand as a weather front moves in.  Cammie soaks it in.

We sit and chat.

Ansel Adams knew this area well.  He deemed it to have an utterly unique "range of light."

The evening comes and with it a gentle light and a heavy stillness.

We wander around camp as the remaining light slips out of the granite cauldron that houses this pristine alpine lake.  A truly great way to end the trip.

In the morning we pack and and head out.  A great introduction to the Sierras.  We will be back.