To round out our summer and conclude this most amazing 5 week summer trip, we dropped the kids off with grandma and grandpa for a 6 day adventure of our own to celebrate 12 years of marriage.
Traditionally, we love to backpack for 3 days and then go to a Bed and Breakfast for 2…but this year Oregon and Washington were snowed in and full of mosquitoes (I mean clouds of these pesky creatures)…Northern Cali was on fire so we just kept driving ’till it was “perfect”. It was fun to not know quite where we’d end up as we started off on Monday morning.
SH had been a camp counselor in the Sierras for 10 years and talks of their glory often. I’d seen mountains, how good could a different mountain range be?
To his delight, the High Sierras were the best bet and within our time frame – so Mammoth Lakes, CA – here we come!
The drive down was such a blast as we ate great organic food from the Ashland Co-op and read an amazing book together (I will post much about this life changing book). We laughed and drove and read and ate. Soon we were coming to Reno – we did this town the best way we know how – a lovely by-pass that zipped us around it without so much as a loud obnoxious casino light flashing at us. South we trekked. We had permits to get, bear cans to reserve, and some gear to still aquire.
We arrived at Mono Lake in Lee Vining at exactly 4:59 – Ranger Station closing at 5:00…I dropped him off in front of the station to sprint in, he made it through the doors. I parked. I did not make it. Too late though for them to issue us permits or bear cans or any of it.
So we headed south to Mammoth Lakes, got a hotel and waited ’till morning to sign up. Unlike Oregon, most of these permits are paid for in advance, reserved, and quite official. Us Northern Bumpkins just wander to any trailhead, fill out the little piece of paper provided, put it in the slot and march on. Not so in Cali. Everything was official and formal and INTIMIDATING!
Upon arriving, all smiles and laughter and light heartedness gave way to nothing short of – FEAR. This was the real deal. I’d hiked for years in wildernesses but these mountain ranges are monstrous. It’s where the big boys play. Mammoth Lakes itself sits at 8050 feet!
Background: 12 years earlier, during the second half of our honeymoon, we were backpacking in Oregon when I suddenly lost conciousness and went into a grand mal seizure. I had a total of 4 of these lovely mind altering fits before the life -flight helicopter arrived in the middle of this wilderness and wisked me away to a hospital, without new hubby. I have been a healthy pumpkin all the years after that until 2005 and 2006 when I suffered with massive fatigue, sinus infections, Epstein Barr, Diabetes, anxiety and on and on.
So………….I have struggled to believe that I am truly “back to normal”, especially since feeling so rotten for nearly 2 years. Backpacking into Oregon mountains seems safe – usually close enough to any city if an emergency happens. But this trek required a shuttle JUST TO GET TO THE TRAILHEAD!!! With BEAR CANS!!! Yikes!!
We’d be doing a gorgeous high altitude loop – into 4 different high lakes, crossing 3 high passes topping out at 10,200 feet high. Plus, there were bears!!
But truly, I was more scared about my body and if it could perform then of the bears.
But, God wants us operating in FAITH not FEAR. I’ve always felt that you can’t conquor your fears if you don’t face them. In fact, 2 years after the seizures in that moutain range, I insisted that we go back to that same spot and peak that mountain again. But, these high sierras were scarey. Massive granite peaks for aas far as the eye can see. And then there was little me.
There was nothing I could do to reverse this fear that had overcome me but simply move forward in FAITH. Sometimes, those first steps on that trail (literal here) is done afraid. That’s OK. Do it afraid and watch God show himself Faithful. The only way to slay the Fear Monster is to stare it down – even afraid – but stare it down.
So I did just that. I started out, afraid. And was greeted with in 10 minutes by this beautiful meandering river that we followed to it’s beginning point at a beautiful lake – Shadow Lake. And up we kept climbing – these are intense trails – up and up, granite everywhere…unbelievable beauty. We got to our first like, Ediza Lake, perched at 9300 feet, surrounded by massive granite slabs rising 12 and 14,000 feet high. I noted that while I was slightly short of breath, I was not unconscious! I also noted that unlike Oregon, there were virtually only highly fit looking men out here hiking. Was I crazy? Was I out of my league?
Next Morning, I woke up and started the day with the simple act of crawling out of my sleeping bag to the rising sun. Drank some fresh glacier water and tentatively began the day. That day included a near sprint straight up this super steep ravine to a high mountain lake called Iceburg. It was during this high energy jaunt that the blue sky, sun, and mountains around me became God’s created cheerleaders to my nervous soul. By the time I reached that lake, I was so jazzed.
SH knew it. I knew it. We had come home. And I was finally and totally healed. Fear was gone and in it’s place for the rest of that trip was complete and utter peace, joy, and praise for the Great Physician and Creator of this Land.
Pictures to come or this 4 day, 35 mile trek with my Hiking Partner for life, my StudHusband of 12 years.