Saturday, August 27, 2011

Our Day In The High Country

It's hard to imagine it's been almost ten years (to the day) that Roger and I hiked in the high country of the Sierra. But it's true. Ten years ago on September 11, 2001 (yes that very day) we started what we thought would be our week-long summer vacation in the Lakes Basin area on the western slope of the Sierra. We woke that Tuesday morning to the sound of the phone ringing in our rented cabin, and my sister telling us to turn on the news. And so we did. The towers were still burning. How were we to enjoy our vacation hiking happily through the lakes and valleys, the mountains and forests, while the rest of the country was in mourning? We tried a few hikes but couldn't find it in our hearts to continue. We came home and had not been back since.

Interestingly, we now live only 45 miles from a remarkably similar set of lakes along the western slope of the northern Sierra. On Thursday, we took a ride. The last four miles of the road to get here, in Tahoe National Forest, is enough to set your teeth rattling and throw your back out of whack. A rock-strewn, rutted dirt road that makes four miles seem like four million. But we persevered, a small price to pay for a place on earth this beautiful to place a Vibram sole. This is just one of the hikes we could take from this trailhead, and there are so many other trailheads just a few miles north or south of this spot. The promise of many future hikes await us, this we know.
We chose the Round Lake trail to respark our enthusiasm for day hikes in the high country. We were in a state of continuous elation from the sight of the very first lake -- and then hiking some 2.5 miles (600 ft rise to 7000 ft) -- to where we finally picnicked at Long Lake. There were stunning vistas from every bend in the trail, and lakes around every turn. We were surprised and delighted by the fields of late-blooming wildflowers and a zillion different species of butterflies.
Everywhere, everywhere we looked, we fell in love with the moment. The happiness of breathing in the quiet mountain air, the tea and toast at this nameless lakelet, the fish jumping, the cat paws of wind on water, the granite rocks jutting out and over everything.
It was the hike we started ten years ago, from a slightly different place, in a completely different moment.

12 comments:

  1. I was so impressed by the Sierras when we were there this spring. We had only seen them from a distance before that but definitely want to go back

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  2. Oh, to know that such places exist in this world! I am so very glad you were able to return there. The photos are stunning. I can only imagine what it's like to be there in person, feeling the wind, hearing the birds and the wind in the trees, seeing the cat's paws on the water. And flowers and butterflies everywhere. Such a blessed place you've found.

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  3. reading your account, and looking at these beautiful pictures, makes me feel close to the experience indeed. I hope someday to join you. Maybe get dad to come along.

    Going into country like this just feeds the soul. Ah. ALso, we should plan an eastern Sierra trip; I've never been, if you can believe it!

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  4. What a beautiful place! Gorgeous wildflowers.

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  5. Glad you made your way back to the high country. I especially like the photo of the high country meadow with trees and flowers and high country light.

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  6. So glad you finally go to take that hike. Perhaps 10 years needed to pass.
    One could get lost in those scenes.

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  7. Breathtaking!

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  8. Delicious scenery! So glad you got out in it and savored it.

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  9. Love the photos, especially the one you have used for the header. The high country of the Sierras is spectacular. I long to return, but it may not be for another year or two. Your photos will sustain me.

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  10. You are a such a poet! Lovely words to match the lovely photos.

    The lack of planes overhead was so striking in those days just after 9/11. I remember hearing stories of people hiking in the wilderness noting the lack of flights and wondering what in the hell had happened to the world in their absence... Sounds like you two were close to experiencing that.

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