Return to the High Sierra Camps

After having such an incredible experience with my brother at Yosemite’s Merced Lake High Sierra Camp last summer, I really wanted to return with Stephanie. We entered the lottery last September, but didn’t get picked, so in February I pieced together a partial loop for Labor Day Weekend from among the dates that were still available. We chose the “Meals Only” option, which meant we got to enjoy the same amazing, homemade meals as all the other guests (while saving us from having to carry food and cooking supplies), but we had to bring our own tent and sleeping bags (instead of staying in the tent cabins).

En route to Glen Aulin in Yosemite National Park
En route to Glen Aulin

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The Rae Lakes Loop

When we left San Francisco early on the morning of July 3rd, bags packed for a four-day backpacking trip, there was no guarantee that we’d actually be able to hike our intended route: the 41-mile Rae Lakes Loop in Kings Canyon National Park. All of the reservable wilderness permits for the holiday weekend had been booked long in advance. So we decided to try our luck at securing two of the ten first-come, first-served permits, which become available after 1pm the day before your hike. We had no idea if there’d be a groundswell of interest in the loop (as it’s one of the most popular in the park), so we left as early as humanly possible (aka 6am) to improve our chances. When we arrived at the Roads End Permit Station just before noon, anxious to size up the competition, there was no one else there. We ate our lunch in the shade of the tall trees, and when 1pm arrived, we got our permits without issue.

Map of the Rae Lakes Loop
Map of the Rae Lakes Loop

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Three (or Four or Five) Day Coq au Vin

Lately I’ve been trying to cut back a bit on my weeknight alcohol consumption (mostly for the sake of calories), which means occasionally I end up with an opened bottle of red wine or two, especially after having friends over. So as to not let good wine go to waste, I’ve been using the excess in an adapted version of Alton Brown’s recipe for Coq au Vin—literally “rooster with wine” in French. Generally I’ve broken the recipe up over two or three (or four or five) days, depending on our dinnertime schedule. On the surface, it sounds like a significant time investment, but it’s really all about the convenience of doing a little bit each day to bring the dish to completion. Often on the first day, I’ll cook two dinners in parallel, starting with something easy, like a quiche, and then once it’s in the oven, I do all the initial prep for the coq au vin.

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Dad at the end of the PCT

It’s hard to believe it’s finally over, but today at 11:50am, my dad (aka Tartan) reached mile 2660 of the Pacific Crest Trail (aka the PCT, the Crest Trail, or just, “The Trail”) after 144 days. He was projecting it would take him about 150 days, or 5 months to complete, at an average pace of about 17.75 miles/day. At 144 days, his average pace was just under 18.5 miles/day. Of course that includes a number of zero and “nero” days, necessary in order to resupply somewhere off-trail. When he was really moving, usually hiking from about 6am to 5pm every day, his normal daily mileage was more like 20-21 miles/day.

A few days ago, my sister flew to Vancouver and then drove to Manning Park so she could meet him at Monument 78—the official end of the PCT. That entailed an 8 mile hike to the US-Canada border, and since they were not planning on camping, they hiked the same 8 miles together, back to Manning Park. The first time I hiked 16 miles in a single day was earlier this year, with dad on the PCT, so this was no small feat for Katie. Way to go!

Here’s is a photo he took of himself at the end:

Dad at the end of the PCT

Congratulations dad!

Our sonic earthquake experience

The last earthquake we experienced was just like this most recent one: it struck in the middle of the night, the shaking was sustained but gentle, and I probably would have slept right through it, were it not for the startling thwomp I received from Stephanie’s arm. I fell back asleep almost immediately. This time, however, we had video of the action to look back on. It’s not the most riveting vantage point, but the sound of our suspended wine glasses clicking together in the kitchen is kind of neat.