We enjoyed our banter with these highly prepared military men. Truth is, they’ve seen more than anyone should ever have to, and I really do understand their paranoia driven need to pack heavy. Because of my history with seizures just one time 16 years ago, we have a one-way satellite p.l.b. (personal locator beacon), usable just one time, but if we push the button, the cavalry will come. $250 for this gadget is well worth the peace of mind for us.
We all have different levels of comfort and there is no need to sacrifice to the level that one feel scared and unprepared. It’s a balance between that and keeping packs as light as possible.
Back when my pack was heavy, a simple ankle roll would cause me to crash and burn as the momentum created from a heavy backpack would overtake my ability to control my body. Too many falls meant we needed to do something about my pack weight for more than comfort, it was a matter of safety. This summer, I have had my characteristic handful of stumbles, but my pack is manageable now, so I stay on my feet.
|Courtesy of Cory J O’Neill photography||“Painted Lady” in Rae Lakes Basin|
At the suspension bridge we parted ways with Fernando and his band of merry men and began our climb up to Rae Lakes Basin, one of the most popular basins in the Sierras. At 6:25, we were exhausted and were 2 miles shy of the basin. We’d been hiking uphill for hours and were so ready to rest for the night. As we turned the corner, Dollar Lake, a small, pristine lake nestled in the trees, came into view. No sooner had we spotted the lake then we heard a call from within the forest, “Hey Bekah! Hey Cade! You made it!”.
It was our favorite cheerleaders again, Tom and Scott.
“Hi Tom! Hi Scott! When did you get here?” we asked.
“Oh, about 30 minutes ago. Are you hiking on?”
“Oh no….just looking for a campsite. Any will do.”
“Why don’t you stay here?”, they suggested. And so we did. The Tom and Scott campground was just what we needed. This trip, with a pass each day and 10 to 14 grueling Sierra miles was proving to be our most challenging, and beautiful yet.
Over 61 miles, we’d have 30,000 feet of elevation change. Walking downhill, controlling a pack was a quad burn and walking uphill was a total body burn, including a cardio challenge. Scott and Tom were feeling it too they admitted. As we scanned our eyes around the lake, we realized that this was a collector for many of us feeling the same muscle burn: this lake was a packed house full of hikers stopping just shy of Rae Lakes.