July 15th . . .

7:30 a.m. . . . As I had hoped for, the clouds passed over in the night and not a drop of rain touched me, however, the morning dew is still heavy and my bag is soaked.

Even so, it was not my most comfortable of nights, as I tossed and turned, trying to find comfort on this rocky ledge.

As usual, Scott was up at probably 5:30, however I didn’t come out here to be rushed and I’m no longer going to feel obligated to do anything with them.

The only good they do me, is to help set a daily pace.

I may even change course and go down to Kern Hot Springs, in Kern Canyon. If I do that, then they’ll be off the mountain.

––then again, who will take my pictures?

9 a.m. and all is dry. It’s weird, the emotions you get up here. I suppose they apply––

(just heard a big crash up there, snow and rocks)––directly to life. Like you have to get up and go if you want to get anywhere.

Back in the city, it is too easy to forget all this––here, if you sit around, you don’t go anywhere and you may just die––it’s simple, move!!!

I’m off to do Muir Pass.

 . . . or thereabouts

. . . or thereabouts

12:30 p.m. . . . spent roughly 2.5 hours getting up here to the John Muir Hut and not a soul in sight.

I saw four people within the first half hour and then it was just me, the snow and lots of rocks.

Very tiring terrain. On the snow you sink deep, slide all over and get stuck. On  the rocks, unless you side-step each one––which is impossible––you just have to balance from one to the next, like crossing one giant stream, without getting wet.

If John Muir were alive today, this is where he would come. The hut sits on what I assume is the pass, although I’ve seen no official sign.

Stepping out the front door gives you nothing but barren peaks, with pastures of snow, hanging on for dear life.

From the way I came, there’s also a no-name lake (probably Mcdermond) which at the moment is still frozen over.

I wish I could have woken up, here.

A chirping bird

A buzzing fly

My tin cup as

it wobbles on

the rocks against

a gentle breeze

The far-off roar

of a river

once crossed

After a while, this silence almost gives me the creeps. Especially if you think about how lonely you are out here. This is solitude.

. . . and now a series of major gusts have come and gone––this is very unnerving––as though the mountain is saying, Alright, you’ve had your moment of bliss, of heaven, now move on––this space reserved for the spirits alone.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

I took my first solo-trip when I was about seventeen. Dad and I had done a few others since whitney and I’d also begun going out with my friends, mostly to Henry Coe Park, in Morgan hill.

I liked Henry Coe alright, but my heart was really set on being in the Sierra and for three or four years I worked on my friends, trying to get them to head into the high country, with me, to get back to Whitney.

No one could ever seem to get their parents permission, or did they just not want to go.

And as seemingly unconcerned as my dad always seemed to be about me, he didn’t want me doing anything solo. Did he fear for my safety––probably––but could I go out on a limb, as they say and say, maybe he was just scared that I might do something so cool and be successful––who knows.

Living the bachelor life as I did, with Dad, from the summer after sixth grade, until I graduated and left for the army, he wasn’t much into the holidays, or even my birthday.

I think he mostly depended on my mom to show up and do the birthday thing with me and she always did.

Anyway, I never got a christmas gift from him, but I had my eye on this very fine sleeping bag, made by a local company called, Trailwise. 

The bag I wanted was, I think, the best one they made, perfect for Everest and cost over three hundred dollars . . . and this was 1972.

One night my dad didn’t come home, didn’t call. I wasn’t too bugged by this. I think I was out playing tennis all night, but when 11:30 p.m. or so, rolled around . . . well, I was very happy to hear that familiar rumble of dad’s green Kharman Ghia, rolling up the block.

He had a habit of cutting the engine a house or so before he hit our front sidewalk and the car would silently roll up the soft curb and he’d yank on the parking brake.

Then it was as though I knew how many steps he would take and the sound the closing gate would make and then there was the door.

So on this particular night, my father came through the door, as I sat, watching the TV and he tossed a large sack at my feet and nearly kept going, except to register my surprise.

He’d driven all the way to Berkeley, after work to buy me this wonderful sleeping bag. And I still have it after all these years and it’s bomber, still.

I did a few trips with it and asked my friends a few more times, if we could all do the Sierra in the summer, but nothing ever came of anything I planned.

Finally, I decided to just go myself. I wanted to go from Mineral King to Whitney. Trouble was, all my gear was locked in a room and I had no money.

Dad had built this extension onto the house––it was supposed to be his darkroom, but just ended up being a storage room for all his precious stuff; the cameras, bikes, family hierlooms, and of course, all the backpacking gear.

I didn’t have a key, but every now and then he asked me to go in and get something and I started making an effort to remove the essentials; backpack, sleeping bag, stove . . .

I don’t even remember if I had a job at the time or where my money came from, but I got enough together to buy food and a bus ticket to Visalia.

Actually, the day I was planning to make my move, with the help of my girlfriend, Cindy Chan, I also happened to talk to my dad’s girlfriend, who was living with us. I told her I needed money for something and she gave me twenty-dollars, assuming she’d get it back, soon.

Cindy gave me a ride to the bus stop in Sunnyvale and I was on my way. I got off the bus and for the first time ever, hitch-hiked and managed to get a few rides all the way into Mineral King.

Dad and I had been in there before, so I thought I knew my way around. Amazingly, I got a permit. I might have already turned 18, so it was no problem.

My goal was Whitney, but instead I went in a circle of sorts, got lost, got found, gave up, got out and then hitched most of the way home. I think I lasted about six days––long enough to smell and look slightly foul.

Still, I got some great rides and ended up in Hayward or some other east bay city. My plan was to thumb across the San Mateo Bridge and go to my grandmother’s house, as I didn’t know what to expect from my dad.

But I stood there in Hayward for several hours and long into the night, until I finally went and threw my sleeping bag into some bushes behind a gas station and went to sleep.

I woke up in the morning and went looking for food. I didn’t have much money, but I got a donut and realized I was only a block from a BART station. I got on and went to Fremont, then took a bus to Sunnyvale and my fate.

Eileen, my dad’s girlfriend was so happy to see me and said that I didn’t have to worry about the money. I was glad for that.

When my dad got home he did nothing but ask me to tell him all about it. I can’t tell you how good that made me feel. I’m sure he was just glad to have me home, although my stories about getting lost and all the rattle snakes, didn’t make him feel too good

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