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Sept. 2004 Sequoia Park Backpack Trip
This was a late season trip taken to Sequoia National Park. 1 current and 2 former Kaiser flunkies would be attending this event, with Jim, the current inmate, acting as our chauffeur due to his owning a nice minivan for hauling our crap. The weather was great as the nighttime temps got only down to about 40 and the days were clear and sunny, yet fairly cool. Our 3 days 2 night backpack plan started off with some touristy stuff. First, we drove to Moro Rock which was this big rock that the park service built some nice stone steps up that afford great views with not too much effort. Here's a look at myself atop the rock. Next, we found the famous Tunnel Log with Jim seen in the driver's seat.
We began the actual backpacking hike portion a bit late, around 3, but we weren't going too far. Still, it was a continuous climb to the camp at 7800 feet, and therefore, it took awhile considering the weight of the packs. Much of the initial trek was through a forest which was nice at shading us from the fairly intense sun. Here's the first look after emerging from the trees finally around 6:15pm. From the same spot, a look in the other direction where the sun in shining. A third shot from that spot, we see the haunting image of a dead tree amongst a backdrop of vigorous mountain life. Nearing, 7:00, we were getting a bit nervous because we were going to a particular meadow for our camp and it seemed like the mountain terrain wasn't going to give us one for a long time. It was getting dark and though in a hurry to get to camp, I was stunned by the brief presence of this beautiful fiery sky enough to pause for a shot. This shot surpasses my Kings Canyon Mist Falls Trail picture from the MegaTrip page as favorite photo. We set up camp in the dark, I had a chicken sandwich I had made at home the night before, a chocolate pudding, a nice wad of beef jerkey and some peanuts for dinner. Then, went to bed.
Today was to be the main event, the trek up to Alta Peak., at 11,204 feet. Fortunately, we were starting from near the serious uphill part due to our campsite location. Still, it was a nice 3400' elevation gain. It wasn't too bad, though the thin air did add a bit of a challenge. Here's a look from the trail somewhere near the beginning. Didn't take too many more shots on the way up as it was a tough climb and I wasn't in the mood. However, as I neared the finish, I got this shot of Jim lagging behind, apparently disproving the myth that taking shots of Southern Comfort improves one's hiking ability. As you can see, the trail pretty much became mostly rock near the top and though brisk wind made it cool, the sun was bright making for a nice comfortable air temp for hiking. We finally made it and here's a nice look at the terrain at the top. You know you're up there when you see few trees. The harshness of the terrain has a strange sense of beauty. Here's Wayne perched at the faux peak by the metal ammo box where hikers write their thoughts about making it to the top. The background is really a LONG way down, though the picture might not make that clear. Mt. Whitney could be seen from the very top, but I left my camera down below since it was a little scramble to get to that true top part with the metal geologic survey metal thing denotes the official peak. A view of desolation in the direction of Mt. Whitney. Some cool rock piles. Still some snow to be seen in the nooks of the rocks below. A look at me with the Pear lake and some other ones way down somewhere in the background. Wayne rests as we see a small fire put out smoke in the Fresno area. On the way down, we were amazed at some of the hearty trees growing in the granite where few others could make it. Here's a nice gnarled one. We proceeded down the Alta Peak trail to the junction where our big packs were hidden and moved on to the second meadow campsite about 1 mile down the trail. We had a bit of time to relax this day and had some nice liquor and a concoction of creamy potato soup, black bean soup, and beef jerky that was good, but a combination of elements that had me passing some of the nastiest gas I have ever produced.
Morning at camp 2 as the sun illuminates a big rock wall that towers over us. Checked out the nice meadow by our camp looking for water. Found deer family that I didn't get a shot of. Then headed back. It was all downhill, but taxing on the feet. Made it back and changed into some fresh clothes and drove back through the valley with not much to report except for a great meal at El Pollo Loco and this guy selling knives and swords on the side of the road near Los Banos. (view at 100% for best results) He even has an axe for sale, I just noticed. The Raiders seemed to have a big following in the Valley, so he had a good customer base. In all, it was a nice trip combined with good company, nice scenary, fresh scent of the mountains, some hard physical activity, and a bit of relaxing. A great brief escape from the work routine and nice to get away from the scum and congestion of the city.
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