2. AN  INTRODUCTION (ALMOST) TO THE HIGH SIERRA

[NOTE: I wrote this sketch around 1957, describing my first adventure in the Sierra Nevada south of Ebbett’s Pass.]

  After traveling with my family down U. S. 395 and seeing the great eastern escarpment of the High Sierra, I came to the conclusion that it was time to see this country up close. So, in the summer of 1955, I got started with a day’s trip from Kings River Canyon. We - I and my friend Norman - set out up the Bubb’s Creek Canyon. I must admit we expected a lot of a one-day trip, planning to make a complete circuit by way of Bubb’s Creek, Rae Lakes, and Paradise Valley. All this, and we hadn’t even started until 10:30 that morning.

   Most of our ambition was gone by the time we reached the top of the dry, dusty switchbacks that had started our jaunt. Still, we pressed onward and at an unknown hour (we had no watch) we reached Junction Meadow. There, we were greeted by some enormous raindrops, the usual summer afternoon rain in the Sierra.

   Norm was all set for a long rest but I was still full of enthusiasm so, leaving him sitting on a big log in the meadow, I pushed on, looking for anything of interest. The “anything of interest” that I saw first was a beautiful view down East Creek Canyon to the Great Western Divide. So, those were the mountains! They certainly were different from the high places I had seen farther north in the Tahoe Region. Not this trip, I can hear myself saying, but someday, I’ll get to those peaks and lakes and snowfields!

I could see there wasn’t much time to go farther, so I started back toward the meadow, passing on my way a group of backpackers headed for the Rae Lakes. Meeting Norm at the meadow, we set off down the trail toward the hot, dry canyon, arriving without incident at the end of the switchbacks about 8:00 p.m., after which followed a long walk of six miles from the road end to our camp at Cedar Grove. So ended my first excursion (almost) into the High Sierra, being tired and hungry but full of enthusiasm for the glimpse of the country I had seen.

 

[AFTERWORD, 2004 - The trip from Kings Canyon through the Rae Lakes and back down through Paradise Valley usually is done in four or five days. Obviously, our aspirations were unreasonably high, but, hey, we were 14-year-olds, on our first big adventure. What we did was major - over 20 miles I think, and an elevation gain and loss of maybe 5,000 feet. We had taken very little food with us, and by the time we were going down the switchbacks to the valley floor, we were both woozy from fatigue and hunger. For us, the trip was “uneventful,” but as I recall, my folks had already talked to the rangers about how late we were.]

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