Previously: After hiking practice, and a flight to the West Coast, Simon, his two children and 88-year-old brother gear up. They drive into the mountains, finally getting an overnight campsite.


7:00 AM the moon and the mountain to the west are bright from the rising sun. I climb out of the sack and restart the fire for coffee, while Chris drives back to the Ranger Station to get our wilderness backcountry fire and hiking permits.

When Thayer gets out of the tent he complains his back hurts because his mattress and sleeping bag did not stay together, so he slept on the hard, rocky ground. My eighty-eight-year- old brother says he didn’t get much rest, and feels some weakness. (I hope that’s not an omen of things to come.)

View of the mountain.

View of the mountain.

We break camp while Chris is gone, but keep the oatmeal, hydrated prunes and coffee warm for him. Meantime, we watch Stiller’s Blue Jays stealing food from campsites. These birds seem to be mostly black but are really dark blue, with quite a crest. They jabber just like our jays back home.

Chris returns. We gear up to take our pictures as we stand with packs on our backs and anticipation on our faces! Just as I set the ten-second timer, I see Thayer start to fall forward.

Robin grabs his arm with one hand and the back of his shirt with the other. Almost lifting him off the ground, she pulls him upright.

Dazed, Thayer says “Are we ready to go now?”

Robin helps him to the car, where he climbs into the back seat to rest for a spell. The kids and I pow-wow. I say, “He’s my brother, and it’s my responsibility to have ‘the talk’ with him.

After gentle coercion, Thayer relents to taking the day off. But he insists, “Tomorrow, I start to walk, I’ll be better.”

It’s a bittersweet moment with the brother I love, but have not seen in nineteen years.

Reality sinks in. As our family nurse, Robin switches from daughter to healthcare professional. She explains the dangers of dehydration to Thayer. She points out “I’ve not seen you hydrating as much as you should.”

She shows him the physical signs that prove he is indeed dehydrated and that it is not safe for him to go on. He nods and agrees to take the day off.

Robin makes Gatorade for him while Chris and I set up her spacious four-man tent for him to lie down.

Once he appears stable, the rest of us hike back down to the General Store to see if our supplies arrived. On the way, we discuss other activity options that might interest Thayer. Chris recalls how Thayer said he enjoyed fishing.

I remember my first trip into the Sierras with Thayer. We had fished for brook trout and fried them for breakfast.

At The General Store, our supply order is still not in, but it has fishing equipment. When we return, Thayer is getting up. We talk him into resting more.

I glance around at the stately tall pines and notice the double meaning when Robin says, “He is not out of the woods yet.”

Simon Stargazer (Apr. 15) adds, “And just like life so often dictates, our plans begin a new direction.

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