High Sierra Camps, Part 3

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  May Lake - early morning

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As before, I found the peacefulness of the early morning, a time to reflect and contemplate all that the earth presents to us each day. Beauty abounds all about us, it is up to us to see it in it's many forms, take it in, absorb it, cherish it. At moments like these, I do appreciate that I have the desire and ability to wander far off on the less traveled paths to see this astounding scenery. Our nation's Parks are treasures that should not be taken for granted. I would certainly encourage people to travel to them and experience them in the manners that best suit your style or abilities. Certainly, everyone may not be as adventurous as I or those like me, but the National Park systems can accommodate people in various ways so that they can be enjoyed. But please, don't just drive through, as I heard 90+ % of visitors do and then consider that they have visited a National Park. Get out of your vehicle, take a bus, tram or other tour, walk about, stay, linger longer and experience what is before you. As they say, "it's not the destination, it's the journey".

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Having made up my mind that my aches and pains were not going to stop my hike, (and now boosted with Advil and Tylenol), I found the next days trek to Sunrise Camp, less taxing than the previous days. That renewed my spirit and having now gotten to know more about our troupe, the realization that setting your mind to it and keeping facing forward is a matter of choice and determination.

With that said, I'd like to comment on those who ventured out on this 7 day hike. Starting with the group from the Bay Area, there were 4 couples, all of them friends. A primary reason for them gathering together for this adventure was to celebrate the birthday of Cynthia P during our week together. By first names, there was Cynthia, Cynthia, Cindy, Jeannie, Rob, Kurt, Mike and Ken (the names aligned with spouses). 

Now here was a group that knows how to enjoy life! Such a fun-loving group as any I've ever seen. All the couples were very devoted to each other, supportive of their relationships and of those of the others, plus, supportive and encouraging to the rest of the troupe. Little did they know that a word from them here or there was an impetus for me to forge ahead. As I've mentioned in previous stories about people I've met along the trails of my journeys, this group, and all the rest, were the wind beneath my wings. Also, as I refer to these souls, as my guardian angels. You all have no idea the inspiration you stir in me, with a determination to tackle the tasks that I confront.

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Loving, caring, supportive, fun-loving, the group of 8 had decided they would have a theme for their week of celebration. They chose to go with "Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs", and Cynthia P being Snow White. When introductions were made they persisted in using their alter ego names, which really got me and others confused. Dot and I, often conferred together about who was who, and it still took nearly the whole week to just get it set in my head of their real first names. Having said that, I will try to recreate the given names and alternate dwarf names to the group. (in the interest of privacy, I'll just use first names, as I don't want to offend anyone by not asking permission to use full names). Sleeping Beauty: Cynthia P. Sleepy: Rob P. Bashful: Cynthia T. Grumpy: Kurt T. Doc: Cindy K. Dopey: Mike K. Happy: Jeannie P. Dopey (again): Ken P. Along the way a few others picked up a dwarf moniker, Richard, (Dick) (Sneezy) B, Jana Walker, our Ranger Guide became (Sleezy). While I didn't end up with a dwarf name, at times I was referred to as Ansel (as in Ansel Adams the famous photographer of numerous Western National Parks and scenery). Imagine that?! 

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Like I said it got confusing, but as I walked I consciously reviewed their real names and finally got them placed in order so that I knew to whom I was speaking. To Jana and Dot I confided that I thought they all are in a witness protection program, thus the cover names to protect their real identities. (Oh boy, do I now hope that is NOT the case!).

Additionally, some of the group of 8 had hiked the High Sierra previously, so they had knowledge of what lie ahead. Apparently there is a tradition amongst the guided hikes to perform a short skit as they leave each camp before hiking to the next camp. Well, as Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs, it was obvious that the song of choice was "HI, HO, HI, HO, it's off to…" was the basis for each days rendition of music, which they accompanied with a little dance step, which then led to our marching out of camp. These skits were performed for the Camps' crew, as we were wished well on our days' journeys. With a smile on our faces, a song in our hearts, a new day of discovery then opened before us.

That being the first group, the second group were the brothers from Massachusetts and Vermont: Dick, Ames and Lev and their friend Keith, also from Vermont. While Snow White and her band of dwarves were close in ages near or in their 50's, the Eastern band of brothers were all in their 60's, and closest in age to myself. Dick was the elder of the brothers, and a natural leader as I saw it. They all respected each other and definitely had a bond between themselves. Also a jovial bunch, with much laughter and insights, I enjoyed their company as well. Being similar in age, they too inspired me.

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Keith, their friend, I learned, is a pretty well know gymnastics instructor (and as it turned out, taught the manager of Vogelsang camp, who also had dinners at his home when she was training. The manager was delighted to know Keith was staying at her camp, but had not known he was arriving until he was on her doorstep). Keith was a trooper who frequently preferred a solo trek. Always quick with a big smile, it was obvious he enjoyed the adventure, the effort, and the fellowship of the rest of our crew.

And then there is Dot. If ever there is an inspiration, this lady optimizes the word. Dot also was traveling solo, just like me. But this was not Dot's first rodeo of the High Sierra adventure kind. Oh no. This was her sixth High Sierra sojourn in Yosemite! That, in itself is remarkable. But what is even more outstanding is that Dot is 81 years young. Holy Smokes, this woman was most often at the head of the pack, tackling the upgrades and downgrades with a relentless determination. I honestly can say, most times I had to struggle just to keep up with her. If memory serves me, Dot was a teacher, lives in San Jose, CA, and takes these trips by herself. She would like to have her son and granddaughter join her, but that has not yet happened. She certainly would delight in showing them the scenery she has viewed  on her multiple hikes and hopes it will be so while she is still able. When I would begin to think that I had just about reached the end of my endurance, I would see Dot up ahead and would be re-energized to set my feet back on the trails and just move forward again. Dot and I had several conversations, which I cherish and I would call her Mom for all that she has done and the lift she supplied when my wings felt too tired to soar.

Not to be forgotten is Jana Walker, our National Park Service Guide. Jana has worked as a park ranger for many years, in several different National Parks, including the Grand Canyon. As a guide, she taught us many lessons about the vegetation, geology, animals and more. Funny, informative and equally as fun-loving as the rest of the troupe, she sponsored an uplifting, hilarious and intoxicating cocktail hour after our arrival at Sunrise Camp. A little bit of liquor at high altitudes goes a long way and releases a lot of "free spirits" in a person. The laughter, antics and bonding make me smile every time I think about that party on the granite boulders overlooking Sunrise Meadow.

This takes me to Sunrise Meadow, where I will pick up the story, when next possible. 

Today I leave Kings Canyon en-route to Sequoia National Park.

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Cindy, an artist, painting a scene while we rested.


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Snow White and the dwarfs, singing and dancing as we prepare to depart May Lake Camp.


kdonald940@cox.net © Donald E. Kline 2012                                         Disqus Comments