I really should start an entirely new tumblr for this natural tumblr down/tweet up I’m planning for next year.
For the moment I’m just going to talk about it and continue making posts here. I randomly typed out Tumblr: unplugged in the title line and think that would be just a fine name for our soiree into the wilderness. If any of you are more clever than I (like, all of you) then I’m open for name suggestions.
As you contemplate making the journey I need to make a few things very clear.
This is not a leisurely stroll through the park. The trail to Bearpaw High Sierra camp is 11 miles with very steep climb at the end and an elevation around 7000 to 8000 feet with day hikes the following day up to 9000 feet.
Please note that you will be nearly 2 miles above sea level. The air is thinner and it is harder to breathe.
If you are not an active person please start training now.
If you are an active person but have never done off trail training, please start training now. Walking 11 miles on level-ish terrain is NOTHING like walking 11 miles over oscillating terrain of various stratum.
Cardiovascular health is essential. Interval training is excellent. Focus on your core and don’t be afraid of the stair machine.
Don’t look at me and think “Hey, if that fat bastard can do it I’ll be fine.” For the record, this fat bastard knows exactly what he is getting himself into and loves every wheezing, sweating, stiff, sore, chafed, blistered and exhausted minute of it. When I’m on the side of the trail crying it’s because I’m happy.
Here is an excerpt from my trip report when I did the trail in 2009:
We started on the trail shortly before 8:00am and began a swift trek through the trees. Not far into the trail is Eagles View. It was interesting seeing Kelly and Brent react to the sight.. The Eagles view I think gives the first taste of what we will be seeing throughout the rest of the journey. At that point reality began to set in and we were happily rolling down the trail. The first few miles flew by, the trail rising to meet our feet, optimism and excitement were overflowing. We were passed by two trail-runners who came and went so fast I wasn’t entirely sure if they were real.
Throughout the day we passed and were passed by two women throughout the day. We took a moment to talk to one of them. She said that she had done the trail before with her husband but he was now disabled. She said that this trip to the High Sierra Camp at Bearpaw was to prove something to herself. I almost got the impression that she was facing something scary down the road and that she needed to prove to herself that she could do something by herself. There was something sad about it and at the same time there was something inspiring. I’ve often thought that if there were something to happen to my family I would want to cope with it by walking. I would want to escape the world and walk. I would like to make my way across the US either from West to East or South to North. We made good progress and by the time we reached Mehrton creek I was ready for a break. We stopped and took our boots ofand refilled our water. Mehrton creek was a busy place. We meet up with the Jewish family that we had passed earlier. There was a father and his daughter and he was escorting his parents to Bearpaw. He talked to us as he had completed the HST in past years. He said that the hardest thing we would ever do was the Kaiser Pass which we would be going through two days from now. There were groups coming down the trail and returning to the trail head. When the traffic had died down we moved on down the trail.
Our next stopping point was Nine Mile Creek where we would relax under the bridge before our final push to Bearpaw. We pushed on and I found that my strength was beginning to fail. I was falling behind and as we got closer to Nine Mile Creek I felt myself failing. My lack of dedication in conditioning and preparing myself for theourney was being felt in every muscle of my body. I told Brent that if I had a similar experience the next day I would turn around and go home. It was a relief to see nine mile creek with Eric, Skot and Kelly already relaxing under the bridge and I was eager to join them. We spent an hour or more at the bridge resting and preparing for the final upward climb to our resting place for the day. While we relaxed a mule team came down the trail and watered at the creek having just resupplied the high sierra camp we would not be staying at.
It was with some reluctance that I put my pack and boots back on and we began our final leg of our journey to Bearpaw Meadow. As we made our assent the clouds became darker and thunder could be heard in the distance. Eric pushed well ahead of the rest of us and while Brent, Kelly and Skot began taking breaks the thought of hiking through the rain spurred me to maintain a slow but steady pace and not rest. I made the cutoff to the Bearpaw campground and met Eric along the way. He had set camp already and was coming back to check on the group. My partners weren’t far behind me and we soon had camp set for the night. I went to get water and struggled to return to the campsite just as the wind and thunder began to pick up.was utterly drained and I turned in for the night before 7:00 pm.