A Wilderness Weekend Walkabout with My Iron Daughter
The moonlight beamed through the window like a flashlight.
It was quiet.
No air conditioning hum.
No fan motors.
No barking dogs.
No cell phone service.
What a wonderful gift!
It was one of those “Where am I?” moments in the middle of the night. I was wrapped up cozy in my teardrop trailer, Eggburt, but I wasn’t with my normal camping partner. I was with My Iron Daughter. We were in the middle of my birthday present, our mother-daughter weekend camping trip.
Some of the best things in life are still free. Relaxation in our wonderful Wilderness areas, a vigorous hike, and a day with my daughter.
I met My Iron Daughter at Huntington Lake because she was too intimidated to drive Kaiser Pass Road. Huntington Lake campsites cost at least $31 a night, so I was A.O.K with continuing up the Kaiser Pall Road to Bosillo Campground. It is one of the few free campgrounds in the area.
Bosillo Campground from the Sierra National Forest Website:
“Located along the Kaiser Pass Road near the High Sierra Ranger Station, Bosillo Creek runs adjacent to the campground. There are 3 available first-come, first-serve campsites. The Corbett Lake Trail begins at the end of the campground. Large RV or motorhomes are not recommended for travel on the Kaiser Pass Road.”
The perfect location for Eggburt, My Iron Daughter, and I to spend a three Wilderness Weekend Walkabout.
Our first wilderness walkabout for the weekend was in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. It was established as part of the original Wilderness Act in 1964 as the Minarets Wilderness. I especially appreciate that it was named after Ansel Adams, a photographer. His photographs were a part of my personal discovery, inspiration, and commitment to a career with the U.S. Forest Service.
Hilary and I scrambled cross-country behind the High Sierra Ranger Station to check out sunset. The weather was lovely and full of fall wonder. The air smelled moist and the sky was as blue as my daughter’s eyes. The long horizon stretched in front of us and grew darker as we watched.
After cooking a carbohydrate rich dinner in Eggburt’s outdoor kitchen, we cozied up with our fuzzy blankies and slept for eleven hours straight.
Saturday was our hike in the John Muir Wilderness. I think of the John Muir Wilderness as the California Grandaddy of Wilderness areas. It is connected to several other Wilderness areas, Yosemite National Park to the north, and Kings Canyon Nation Park to the south. Visually, it is the home of countless iconic high elevation peaks, lakes, and granite features. And, it is named after John Muir! "John of the Mountains" father of wilderness, philosopher, and wilderness advocate.
We got to a late start at noon for our trek straight up the mountain to Corbett Lake. We zigzagged up the switchbacks following small piles of rock trail markers.
Occasionally lost, but quickly found, we trekked under the lodge pole pine, Ponderosa pine and western white pine. My Iron Daughter graciously hiked with me, that is until the very last quarter mile where she sprang to the lake. I slogged to the top.
When I go on walkabout in the High Sierra, I hike with old friends; Ponderosa pine in the lower elevations and western white pine at the higher elevations. Gnarly lodge pole pine, and dried bracken fern sprays along the trail. “Hello!” I greet the spirits among the trees, shrubs, grasses, ferns, mosses and mushrooms. What a joy to introduce my old pals to my adult daughter, and in reciprocal she gets a chance to meet them.
Goldenrod gooseberry, lemon yellow sprays of snowberry, long mid-afternoon shadows, grey squirrels cutting Ponderosa pine cones and eating them like corn on the cob.
We watched trout in the lake jump at flies despite the bright mid-afternoon sun.
I always relate to the ecological and biological beauty of being in the Wilderness. My Iron Daughter (of the Millennial generation) shared with me a different perspective. As an athlete, she sees hiking, biking, being in the wild as a physical challenge that makes her feel good. It is her workout in a beautiful gymnasium. I look at things outside, while she feels things inside. I find wilderness an outward journey. She sees it as an inward personal challenge.
Sunday morning, we awoke early by alarm to watch sunrise over the John Muir Wilderness from the edge of the Ansel Adams Wilderness. The morning was warm and the moon was still shining. We started off in the dark, I with my headlamp and Hilary with her iPhone flashlight. We walked along the granite domes and joined the boulders and the pines on the edge of the Ansel Adams Wilderness. On the moment of sunrise, the pink sky gradually changed to brilliant blues. The air temperature warmed and the High Sierra landscape panorama was lit with autumn light.
Our Sunday hike was the Twin Lakes and George Lakes trail in the Kaiser Wilderness. Wilderness number three. Someone told me that no one knows where the name "Kaiser" came from. I do know that that it makes a very nice open backyard for the recreation cabins and businesses at Huntington Lake. I like to think that I own it too.
Hilary and I have worked out a hiking style that I call “Tortoise and the Hare.” Hilary runs the trail while I clomp along at my own pace.
I sat and ate my sandwich at Lower Twin Lake. What a blessing to have the time and resources to take a few minutes of savasana in the wilderness. Savasana is the yoga practice of taking a final moment of relaxation; intended to rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit after physical exertion. My Iron Daughter lapped me on the trail and stopped for a quick check-in. She had already made it to George Lake and was on her way back. Then she ran up the trail to the parking lot.
What a thoughtful birthday present! A gift need not be something purchased. I grow weary of living with so much commercialism, … “Buy me! Buy now! Buy this!” So many things jumping at us trying to get our attention and our dollar.
But, in the Wilderness the only thing jumping are the fish. Savasana is still free. Meditation and relaxation are available unobstructed and unfettered. The warmth of the air, the smell of the pines, the quiet sound of flowing stream, the rejuvenating view of a mountain lake, and camping are still free for a mother and daughter to discover and share.
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