Backpacking from South Lake to Long Lake

Anticipation Excitement builds. Daphney and Jayden can’t wait. Last year’s backpacking trip felt like a proud accomplishment. This will be a trip bigger than the last, and this will be Myles’s first such trip. It’s Friday evening of Labor Day weekend. Yan and I are doing some final packing. “We’re…

Hiking in Katmai

We disembark onto a private bus. There are a few others with us. Making our way through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, we soon arrive at the Anchorage airport. I check the car seats and bags for city travel at the storage facility, then board our flight to King Salmon. There is no reception in King Salmon, but I was able to find the number for the Katmai Water Taxi and call them using a wall phone that allows free local calls. We wait in the adjacent visitor center where we watch a film about the Katmai area.

Long Lake to Mosquito Flat

This is our final day! The lake is like a polished mirror, and the mountain range stand like a boundary between the water and the sky. The two almost look indistinguishable. The kids stir and wake up. I go out for a photography session and fish while Yan makes oatmeal breakfast.

Marsh Lake to Long Lake

Rock Creek is still singing when I get up. The clothes on the line are mostly dry. Soon, the kids stir. I climb the hillock nearby and shoot pictures of clear reflections in the lake as it stretches like a polished slab of glass dotted with marsh grass.

Mosquito Flat to Marsh Lake

The trail rises gently out of Mosquito Flat. In contrast to the scorching hot week in Loma Linda, the air, scented with pine needles and sagebrush, is cool. I tell the kids a story about hiking in Kings Canyon to distract them from the mild uphill. Just before the trail junction to Ruby Lake and Mono Pass, everyone takes a break by some shaded boulders.

Preparations for Little Lakes Valley

The anticipation began more than six months ago. After seeing the kids hike the loop trail in Pinnacles National Park, and after having abandoned their double stroller in favor of shoes, we grew confident that they will be able to go backpacking.

Daphney’s First Backpacking Trip

Having successfully camped for two nights and hiked at high altitude, we figured it was safe to go backpacking. This will be Daphney’s first trip into the backcountry wilderness. We spend the first night at Gray’s Meadow to acclimatize. Situated just below Kearsarge Pass, the campground gives us perfect night…

San Jacinto

Yan and I have been enjoying taking pregnancy pictures, and with our love for the outdoors, San Jacinto seemed fitting. We drive out to Palm Springs, get tramway tickets, and have lunch there while waiting for our turn. This time, it’s homemade flatbread with vegetables. Once at the top, we…

Etiwanda Falls Hike

It’s New Year’s Day, and we want to start off the year by being active. We decide to do this popular hike to Etiwanda Falls. From the reviews, this trail has great ratings. We arrive at the trailhead parking early, and parking lot nearly full. We park, pack up, and…

North Cascades

It’s early Sabbath morning, and I take off early for the mountains. The destination will be the North Cascades. The day before, I had researched the area, and it looks like one of the most accessible trails with the best views is the Hannegan Pass trail. So, this is the…

To Many Glacier

We wake up to warm dry conditions on the last day. The clouds have completely left, and everything except for the ground cloth is bone dry. Mark discovers that his tent has fallen apart, the plastic window in the rainfly detached from the vestibule’s awning. He sticks his head out like a turtle. It’s time for a new tent.

Over Redgap Pass

It is sometime in the early morning when I awaken. Peering outside, I see bright stars. The clouds have rolled back, and I figure it is safe to open up the rain fly. My shoes are still wet, but everything else stayed dry through the night of rain. I would later find out that it was not so with Brad and Grant, whose tent leaked with the incessant drip, drip, drip that soaked much of what was inside their tent. The morning is beautiful, though, with bright warm sunlight drying up the shoreline. Here, we dry out our gear.

Into Belly River Basin

I wake up to condensation along the head of the tent. The foot is also damp. With our fly completely closed and the temperature dipping to dew point, beads had formed along parts of the tent. I reach for the towel and mop up most of it. Our clothes on the line are dry though.

Over Gable Pass

Into the Woods. That’s what this first stretch of trail reminds me of, and it reminds Yan of that same movie we watched in the plane while on our honeymoon. Lee Ridge Trailhead begins as a small inconspicuous orange flag trail marker a half mile south of Canada. I would have missed it had it not for Ms. Ranger’s directions. Stepping off Chief Mountain Highway through the border of brush alongside the road, the trail emerges. Little did we know that this trail would transport us to a trip that will challenge our gear and push their limits.

Getting Ready for Glacier National Park

Backpacking gear normally lasts for years—the same sleeping bag, clothes, stove, backpack, and all the little miscellaneous stuff. With much of the gear list the same, packing for this trip was relatively easy. I had pulled out my list, updated it with the new tent and cook set, and checked everything off. Yan just followed my list and added her gear. Except for the sleeping bag and backpack, she had pretty much everything from before, ready to go. Working with the list and a small kitchen scale, we had gotten each of our pack’s base weight to less than 20 lbs.

Mount Washington

This has been a phenomenal hiking season. Starting with summiting one of the most prominent mountains of Southern California—Mt. San Jacinto, the peakbagging list includes Mauna Kea, Mount Whitney, and now Mount Washington. I’ve read about Washington many times. Visiting Boston for the American Society for Surgery of the Hand…

High Sierra Trail: Day 8

Hikers bidding for the summit trudge by our campsite. Even though it’s barely light outside, I see their headlamps and hear their voices. Then, I hear Mickey. He and Wayne are off early as well. They are going to hike down to Whitney Portal first, where they will unload and clean up, thus avoiding the second morning of wag bag use. Mark is also out of the tent. He’s gone for quite some time. I get myself out of the sleeping bag and do some preliminary packing.

High Sierra Trail: Day 7

The alpenglow foreshadows the glorious day this will be. Hovering above the Great Western Divide, just before sunrise, the band of orange sky washes the entire landscape in a warm hue, in absolute contrast to the nippy cold air. The color of the meadow’s grass looks a bit strange. Of my group, I’m the first to get up. Soon, the rest are up as well, and we have a quick breakfast. I lean on the backrest rock that Mark picked out—he has an obsession about finding good backrests—and have the usual morning French press coffee while watching the sky turn from orange to blue.

High Sierra Trail: Day 6

Like the other mornings, the routine is pretty much the same—hot breakfast, clean up, pack, and head out. We quickly gain elevation on this climb out of the Upper Kern Canyon. Before long, we are looking back down the canyon that is open to the clear blue sky. Then, we join Wallace Creek and hike alongside it. Along the trail, Wayne and I share stories of the meaning of the Sabbath and of relationship. Mark hikes ahead and loses the group. Near the campsite where Mark originally wanted to stay, just before the flat section, we step around a huge pile of bear droppings, bright red from the meal of ripe berries.

High Sierra Trail: Day 5

We’ve been looking forward to this mid-trip breakfast. Even though the powdered eggs turn rubbery when overcooked, the vegetarian bacon bits add enough flavor to the dish of scrambled eggs and hash browns. The little packets of ketchup make all the difference. Along with two rounds of French press coffee, this turns out to be our favorite breakfast.

High Sierra Trail: Day 4

I’m the first one up on this short rest day. The sky is clear, and I emerge from my tent in time to catch the first light on the distant mountains, painting the tops a fiery orange. Moraine Lake is a perfect mirror. I step onto the lakeshore to take pictures, tiptoeing between bear tracks that Mark pointed out to me the day before. Again, we have French press coffee.