Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Recent Pack Trip – What I Learned (part 3)

Layover days are a good thing.

Actually, I already knew this. I just need to be reminded from time to time. When I first started backpacking the idea of staying in one place for two nights just seemed absurd, and I never did this. We moved every day to a new camp site.

On last week’s trip I accompanied my brother and his wife and three sons on their first Sierra Nevada pack trip. Our original plan had been way too aggressive – a 6-day trip into the Pioneer Basin over 12,000′ Mono Pass. We might have made it, but someone would probably have suffered from altitude sickness and the whole thing would have been quite a grind, especially for first-timers. So we wisely revised out plans months ago and came up with a trip that had us staying in one place as long as three nights.

When you move from one spot to the next every day you do see a lot of country, but you don’t get to know the country you see very well. (You can get to know it this way if you come back again many times, but that is a different topic.) However, if you set up camp and stay in one place for a few days you discover things you would otherwise overlook. My brother and his gang made two forays into the area right below Ritter and Banner Peaks on this trip, enjoying the wildflowers and racing back to escape an incoming hail storm. I managed to explore the area near Iceberg and Catherine Lakes. On the last days of the trip I had time to amble to the far end of Thousand Island Lake.

It takes time to get to know a particular landscape. Staying put in that landscape for a day or two can help.

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August 3, 2007 - Posted by | Commentary

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