Backpacking in the High Sierras

Backpacking in the High Sierras

It was a quite amazing trip, more of an adventure than a backpacking trip. The trip was guided by the excellent Wilderness Outings and started at Lodgepole in Sequoia National Park, going over Sillman Pass, to the Ranger Lake Area, then up  to Crescent Lake. We did 25 miles in four days, much of it over 9,000 feet, including off-trail scrambling on steep slopes, all of it with 40 pound backpacks and in steep mountain passes. The trek from Ranger Lake to Crystal Lake, which was about 2 miles and off-trail, took us about three hours, to give an example of the ruggedness of the terrain.

Why do I do this, you ask? See the photo. That’s why I do it! This is Crescent Lake which is at 9,400 feet. We camped there Saturday night. It has an absolutely spectacular view, and since it’s off-trail and hard to get to, probably not more than 20 people a year go there.

I’m exhausted, having pushed myself hard. Even with that, returning from this stunning wilderness to the “civilization” of Los Angeles is difficult.

The bear in this photo came into our camp site at Twin Lakes on Saturday morning about 6 am. I was in my sleeping bag when I saw him. He was only about fifteen feet from me! I yelled “Bear”. As I (foolishly) reached for my camera, the guide ran over, said “Sorry Bob”, banged pots and pans together, and the bear ran off. Next time I will do the same. Chase bear away first. Then get photos! He ambled back a few minutes later still looking for the pic-a-nic basket, and that’s when I got the photo.

Addendum: This was a black bear, a smallish one, maybe 200 pounds. Confusingly, they often have brown fur, but are a separate, considerably more placid species than their much larger cousins the grizzly, which is also known as the brown bear. Black bears seldom hurt humans, unless the human has done something exceptionally stupid. The grizzly is quite different. They are ill-tempered, will stalk humans, and even the Native Americans feared and respected them. Their scientific name is “Ursus Horribilis“, which should give a clue as to their temperament. There are still a few Grizz left in Wyoming and in Alaska, having been hunted to extinction elsewhere.

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