DRIVING INTO THE MOUNTAINS

Previously: Stargazer, his son, Chris, and daughter, Robin, join his 88-year-old brother, Thayer, on a trip into the Sierra-Nevada Mountains.

Journal: Thursday, August 14, afternoon.

Finally driving. Six hours late! I planned to be in the camp now and beginning our trek to Relief Reservoir.

Two things we need to get before we can even start on the trail: a permit for the back country wilderness trails and a fire permit. Oh yes, and gold pans!

4:15 PM Thayer tells stories. A gas station and repair shop comes into view and we make a stop to see if anyone knows where we can find gold pans. While there, Chris opens the hatchback to grab some snacks. No gold pans! We head back to the last town where there was a Big Five sports store.

Bad idea! In our haste, no one remembers the hatchback is open, and my backpack spills onto the road! Braving swerving cars, a guy from the repair shop halts traffic. He grabs and brings it to me. A few minutes later, we have two gold-panning pans!

5:00 PMOn our way again. More stories from Thayer. Once, he had a small plot of land and grew two tomato plants. He nurtured them, but one died. The other one produced only one tomato.

Thayer watched it. One day, he felt that it was ripe. He strolled out to the tiny garden and as he rounded the corner, he saw a big buck that stood calmly taking a big bite out of his precious tomato!

The buck must have felt quite at home. It spent the next couple of days hanging around – waiting for another tomato!

Oh! Oh! Oh! The Ranger Station!

Chris is driving and slams on the brakes. I race to the door. Darn! They are gone for the day. We strive on.

6:00 PM Near the end of California Highway 108, I see the sign for the first of several campgrounds.

Chris at the wheel.

Chris at the wheel.

We drive on to the General Store, Restaurant, Saloon and Pack Store to pick up the package of freeze-dried vegetables and fruit that I ordered. NOT THERE!

It is too late to start hiking. I inquire about a campsite for the night. Nothing. Several campgrounds are full. Finally, we find space at Baker camp.

We set up tents. It has been thirty years since Thayer set up his two-man tent, and fifty-one since I did it with him! The kids have new tents–Robin has practiced with hers. Guess who got theirs up first!

After that, it was too late to break out the rations, start a fire and fix dinner, so we hightailed back to the Restaurant. My kids and I ate whopping big cheeseburgers and fries. Thayer had baked chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad and pumpkin dump cake!

Later, campfire, more stories and wine Chris had bought at the Restaurant. We star-gazed for a long time. Twinklers felt so close I could reach up and rearrange them into light-words on a velvet background. A bevy of bats swoop mosquitoes and bugs out of the air. Wow!

Drained, we give up and head for sleeping bags.

Friday, about 3:00 AM It’s the middle of the night, but the moon is so bright! At first, I thought it is dawn. Oh! It’s really too early to be up!

Simon Stargazer (Mar. ’15) adds, “Though I was excited, I finally managed to get back to sleep.”

 

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