It isn’t the distance, it’s the elevation.
We gathered at Four Jeffrey Campground—I have no idea where that name came from—just over a week ago Saturday. Kim traveled with her son Griffin in our truck, carrying all the overnight camping stuff they would need as well as food for the night. Kim cares for Michelle with me and would be taking my sweetheart back home for the week that Mikaela and I were backpacking in the High Sierra.
Mika and her boyfriend Sean drove up in our car with all the equipment, er, heavy equipment.
I was going to get my first break as a caregiver in nearly five years.
And this is a deep end of the pool break because there is no cell service, no wifi for the entire trek. You set that aside and head out into very well marked and maintained trails, but disconnected from what we take for granted. I would not be able to monitor or check in, nor would they.
Our situation, adventuring into these impossibly rugged mountains, was more fraught with danger than their drive home and the routine of daily living.
Curious situation as both ends of the line would have no reach. Trust.
It was a fun, quick night and the next morning a hurried packing. Of course, I forgot a few minor items in the haste and packed some things I could have done without had I taken the time to really think it through, and it wasn’t until nearly ten that we parted.
Sean and I had left the truck not far from our campground at our end point, South Lake, and he was about to drive Mika and I the few miles up to North Lake where we would begin the 55 mile loop.
A quick hug to a nervous Michelle, feeling her heart and breath in my ear, her gentle hands wrapped around my back, that familiar form that had been beside me for thirty-five years. I felt she would be okay with Kim and her co-caregiver Jeannie. I was not worried.
I was more worried about Mo. Would he pine? Would he pull a full Disney movie and slip away and b-line through forest and falls to find us in the wild? Or would he shrug it off, which was more likely. Meh, he’ll be back. Our eyes met and I ruffled his face. He didn’t seem worried.
Can’t bring a dog into this area because it goes through National Park land. The sliding door closed on his expectant face. He’s going to fine.
And I had added a quart to Storm, had driven him only yesterday up the grade in 105-degree heat to the cooler air here at 8000 feet. He had just done his thing, plugging along, dropping down the gears on the steep grades, speeding up as we leveled or went downhill, reliable and smooth. I tried not to overstress him and remembered the mantra from my mechanic. “Keep the rpms up.” He would be just fine.
We were ready, filled with electrolytes, and knew where we would embark, running little checklists in our minds about socks and shirts and stove and boots and the myriad of little items you know you’ll need for eating and sleeping and those you hope you won’t need for first aid and downpours.
Mika and Sean take their final farewell and we are scurrying a bit because there are two Rangers there doing campsite maintenance and we don’t want to answer any questions about our Wilderness Permit because we have one, we’re legit, but we were supposed to leave two days earlier. I don’t doubt I could explain all this, and it would be fine but you never know what sort of person you are going to end up with. Will it be someone who can see the big picture our someone who has view confined to a narrower interpretation of “just the rules?”
I’m reminded of Pirates of the Caribbean, “It’s more of a guideline than a rule.”
We think we have managed a clean exit and… there is one of the Rangers, a busy seeming woman who doesn’t appear to be about to cuff us. She is more interested in trash and any lingering fires in pits.
“Is it common for people to reserve spaces and not show up?” I ask as a distraction, clever me. “I noticed so many empty campsites in the full campground last night.”
“Some do that for days long reservation,” she replies and shakes her head.
“Think of all the people who want to be here but couldn’t find a place.”
She shakes her head again. “I know.” And with a shrug she goes about her business.
We turn towards our business. Looking at fifty-five miles in six days through some of the most beautiful country in the Country.