This morning I arose with the sun, or shortly there after, which is an anomaly for me, a night owl who is more likely to see 2:00 AM than six—even seven—in the morning. I wanted to get a good hike in before a long day on the road. The alarm went off at 6:01am and by 6:50 I had rolled out of bed, dressed, refilled water bottles, stowed everything for the drive, cranked Anita’s top down, driven to the trailhead and began climbing the switchbacks from George Lake, just out side of Mammoth Lakes. By 7:30 I had hiked 1.75 miles, climbed close to 1,000 feet and arrived at Crystal Lake’s glassy water nestled beneath granite cliffs and spires.
Raindrops began falling and gray came in all around the pushed out the morning’s blue sky. So the three of us put on rain gear—my dad and I in matching rain pants and thin-shelled jackets, Jackson in his red coat. We set out for Hidden Lake with no notion of the distance or difficulty but free from the car and content to venture out until half way ‘til dark.
The drive from Cape Town to Wilderness took us through beautiful countryside that resembled a cross between California’s 101 and red rock country; wine lands and red mountains. We stopped along the coast for Dave to surf a picturesque right point break called Mossel Bay.
My parents took me backpacking outside of Ketchum, Idaho practically every summer of my childhood starting when I was 3 or 4. I loved being totally immersed in the mountain forests. I am lucky to have been exposed to the incredible isolation and remote wilderness that backpacking brings from a young age. I am also fortunate to have been taught the skills needed to be so isolated from civilization. We brought my best friend, Josie, to Idaho with us when I was in high school and she predictably fell immediately in love with it. This summer I decide to plan a trip to take four of my best girlfriends backpacking. For two of them it would be their first trip.
I selected the Duck Pass trail in the John Muir Wilderness for a few reasons. 1. It looked incredibly beautiful 2. The trail passed 3 smaller lakes on the way to Duck Lake. I wasn’t sure how well everyone would do hiking with packs so the lower lakes gave us alternative camping options 3. The trail to Duck didn’t seem to long or challenging but was far enough to get us out of most day hiking range. 4. There were trails that we could day hike on once we set up camp.