Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day 27: Backpacking with kids: our 200 mile summer - OUR LAST DAY!

Bullfrog Lake area to our truck at Onion Valley Trailhead, over Kearsarge pass.  An easy 7 mile ending

Our first blue sky, warm morning in many days hugged us sweetly as we breakfasted for the last time.  A quiet sense of awe that we really were about to finish our 200 plus summer mixed with sadness that it really was almost over.  This thin brown ribbon of dirt that weaves inconspicuously through the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wildernesses, connecting Yosemite National Park to Kings Canyon National Park  had pieced together our world for 4 weeks.

2011 at the top of Kearsarge Pass.  Cade: 10, Bekah: 8
We had one more easy pass between us and our truck: Kearsarge Pass at 11,720 feet would be our last chance to look back over the massive peaks and lakes of the Sierras.

We took our time getting on the trail, choosing to linger longer on warm granite rocks, taking in the sights, smells, and feel of a Sierra morning, one last time.

One last time to listen to a stream bubble and gurgle by.

One last time to hear nothing but birds,wind, and trees.

One last time to watch the light glow on this famous Range of Light.

The hike to the top of the pass was fast.  Seven miles to the truck was all we had left and only a couple of miles to the top of one of the easiest passes to climb.  We had light packs and our strongest legs of the summer.   The kids and I reached the summit in no time.  At the top, we looked down the trail to see Cory, paused, looking back at the beauty we were leaving behind.  When he finally reached the summit, he was quiet and introspective.

The cheerful crowd that gathered at the top snapped him out of his reflective state.  Chris, a brand new California resident, recently transferred from Kentucky.  With a delightful southern drawl, he was the perfect greeting for us as we left our beloved Sierras behind.  "This is my first hike out here EVER!  I drove here from Palmdale, and day hiked up here.  I just moved to California and I moved here just for this.  No other reason.  Just these mountains.  This is unreal!  I can't stop taking pictures.  Every turn I think it's amazing but then I walk up a little further and it's even better, so I snap another picture."  Chris was radiant.  He literally was jumping as he spoke, his animation underscoring why we did this at all.

Such a perfect and fitting way to end our adventure.  It felt like we were handing a baton off to someone who was on day 1 of his discovery of a place we had come to call our home away from home.  Here you go Chris.  Here's the baton.  We just finished, now it's your turn. Take the baton and never stop exploring! Enjoy!

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