Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 5

Day 5 Garnett Lake to Gladys lake: 8 miles

Wake up time
On trail time
Total time
 Morning 1
2 hrs, 50 min
Morning 2
2 hrs
Morning 3
2 hrs 20 min
Morning 4
1 ½ hrs

We are on vacation after all, so it’s not like we are running a military boot camp each morning.  However, it is nice to see wake up to trail times tighten up as it’s a good indicator of teamwork and that individual contributions are stepping up. 

It’s hard to believe how fluid our team has become in just four mornings.  I feel much more confidant today than I did four days ago.  Each summer I have to be reminded of what works.  I’ve settled, for now, on putting on my contacts first, stuffing my sleeping bag and mat into their stuff bags, packing my backpack, leaving the tent to brush teeth and then I greet the day.  Some mornings, Cade or Bekah choose to stuff their own bags and their sibling’s bag, just to help the family team out.  We emerge to the breakfast rock with most packing done except for the tents being done (which we will later change).  Hungry hikers devour homemade granola full of nuts and seeds, cereals, and occasionally hot oatmeal.

Children do like to work and help and contribute.  This is yet another key pull to getting children outside.  It connects them, like it connects adults, to the basics of survival.  Maybe they drag their feet at home because they aren’t able to connect themselves to the big picture as well there.  Emptying the dishwasher is such a small part of accomplishing a meal, and that doesn’t even explain how the mortgage gets paid!  In contras, from the moment the stove gets lit until the last dish is cleaned, they are part of the process.  Bekah marvels every morning at how we are able to carry all that we need (a tangible amount that they can wrap their minds around) on our backs and even she, at nine, and Cade, at eleven, knows how to set the tents up, pack and unpack their bags, keep clean, light the stove to boil water, i.e. survive.  How could a 9 year old comprehend all that it takes to have a house full of stuff?  The beauty of when we remove ourselves from all of that is the leveling effect it has – where 7, 9, and 11 year olds can become aware of exactly what is needed to get through each day, happy.  It makes sense that within a few days of watching us and being coached through procedures that their confidence propels them to eagerly step up to the plate and work hard, with excitement for each task.

As we sit tonight in the trees, near Gladys Lake en route to The Devil’s Postpile National Monument, where we will put out for this section, Bekah is cheerfully massaging the dinner bags to rehydrate them while Cade is lakeside with Daddy getting water.  We all like to be part of projects (like setting up a home as newlyweds) where we are instrumental in making decisions from the beginning to the end.  We insert kids in the middle of that and expect them to feel motivated and automatically understand their place in OUR big picture.  How I love seeing all of the stuff that creates our adult world stripped away and replaced with dirt, rocks, trees, warm sun, and lakes and watching our kids come to life as they see how their efforts make a big difference in our daily to do lists.  Their chores are directly linked to our survival and that is empowering to a young child.  And here’s the thing we’ve noticed over the years: the confidence and work ethic gained out here as we work through each day as a team transfers to life.  Boy scouts to outdoor camp counselors can all attest to the same.
Now some motivators are beyond our control.  We had little to do with the record breaking 1 ½ hour time from wake up to hitting the rail that we set this morning.  After spending 16 hours in a dust bowl of howling wind, we awoke to more of the same.  We were dusty, cold, and ready to hit the trail in search of warmth, quiet air, and granite slabs.  So for a morning we looked like a well-oiled machine in action with all four of us staying busy until the last boot was secured.

Despite the incessant and relentless wind, we all fell in love with Garnett Lake as we cross country trekked from the western edge to the actual JMT trail.  We walked past flowers, and waterfalls, and White Birch Pine that spoke of a Master Gardner.  We walked along the banks of Garnett Lake with a sunlight dance on its surface that sang of 1000s of diamonds glistening in the morning sun.  Once we crossed the bridge at the outlet and headed up the pass on the other side of the lake the roar of the wind finally gave way to a warm, friendly sun that smiled on us as climbed through flower lined trails to the 11,000 ft pass. 

Garnett Lake always charms but the strong winds that blew were a clear reminder that we are but visitors in a wild land that will do what it does without any care to our comfort.  We need to always be prepared, always be alert, and always remain respectful of this wild place we find ourselves in, no matter how charmed we become. 

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