Previously: With his son and daughter, the author planned to join his 88-year-old brother, returning after 50 years to again hike the Sierra-Nevadas.

Journal: Thursday August 14th

4:30 AM. I’m awake, listening to the gentle snores from Robin, and the slightly more bass, but mild snores of Chris. I get up and pee… can’t go back to sleep!

6:15 AM. We’re all up

6:30 AM. Thayer calls to tell us to take our time… get a very leisurely breakfast and don’t rush over to his place. Not surprisingly, he is behind in his prep for the mountains.

6:45 AM. Chris says, “Hey! Where’s my boots? Dad! Are you wearing my boots?”

I glance down at my footwear and see they are not mine. “Yep.”

I look around and finally find my pair over in the corner where I tossed ‘em last night. “OK, OK. I didn’t realize we had the same-size feet and such similar boots.”

7:15 AM. On our way out to breakfast, suddenly we are instead at Thayer’s place. I touch his intercom number. After opening the wrong door and scaring a sick and cranky old lady, we stand at his apartment.

I rap on his door. Knock, knock, knock. The door opens and there’s this thin wiry bright-eyed little guy. Thayer!

We hug and he gives me the first of my nicknames during this adventure. He says, “Hello Fat boy!”

(L to R) Chris, Robin, Thayer and me.

(L to R) Chris, Robin, Thayer and me.

8:30 AM. The kids and I settle down to packing our backpacks. Thayer has a twenty- foot long, ten-inch-in- diameter plastic tube to divert a small stream and make a waterfall.

I explain to the kids, “To pan for gold, we’ll dig out the layers of gravel in the waterfall depression. Hopefully, gold is hiding there.”

Thayer doesn’t have the gold pans yet! He says, “Don’t worry. We can pick them up in Placerville on the way. I checked. They have them in stock.”

“OK, we can do that.”

Still no breakfast, so we snack on trail food: beef jerky and nuts. Finally, everything is sorted, divided up and in our packs.

Throughout the morning, Thayer cries over and over, “Weigh that before you put it in your pack… weight is our enemy!” and “Are you absolutely sure you need that thing? Yeah? Well, you’ll be sorry!”

Noon. Everyone pares down. Chris carries forty-five pounds and Robin fifty-two. Thayer, due to his age and health carries only about fifteen. (I don’t have a full weight either. The kids limit me to thirty-two.)

After practicing with thirty-five to forty plus pounds on my back for the last six weeks, I’d better be ready. Robin will be. She averaged more than that, as we practiced.


(I hope.)

Simon Stargazer (Jan. ‘15) adds, Suddenly, I had a scary thought. After fifty-one years, will I still have what it takes to make it in the backcountry?”

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