Travis G Black & Associates November 2019




This month, I learned that there is a holiday called National Take a Hike Day, which takes place on Nov. 17 each year. It reminded me of the many years I spent in Boy Scouts when I was younger, specifically of one of the assistant scoutmasters who led our troop on a few adventures. He was very much involved with hiking and backpacking, which is why he decided to organize an eight-day backpacking trip for us through some of the most beautiful country California has to offer. Growing up, I had a lot of opportunities to go backpacking, but this trip stands out as one of the most memorable. It was set to take place in Mineral King in Sequoia National Park. One of the fathers of my fellow scouts had a cabin there, and we used it as our starting and ending point for the eight-day hike. Getting to Mineral King requires taking one of the most winding roads I had ever been on. I can remember that we had to stop several times, as a few of the boys got car sick. What a way to start our adventure! Once we got to the cabin, everyone crashed for the night in preparation for the upcoming adventure. I don’t think any of us were too worried about being gone for eight days; more than anything else, we were mostly anxious to get started. We were more concerned about the weather, which, although gorgeous, had a reputation for suddenly changing. The next morning, we slipped on our packs and headed out the door. Mineral King is a beautiful place to go backpacking. There are

about a hundred lakes in the area, and every day, we hiked past at least 3 or 4 lakes. We also saw several waterfalls, walked alongside rivers, and saw an incredible number of bears throughout the days. We also got to see the marks they left on the trees where they marked their territory. One night, we could actually hear them walking through the camp. A couple of the men who were with us banged pans together to chase them off. I don’t remember being scared of them, though. They never actually came too near to any of us. We also did a lot of fishing, which was just incredible. The lakes we fished ranged in size, but most of them were pretty small, about half the size of a football field. The amazing thing was that it was like no one had ever fished these lakes before. You’d throw your line out, and you could catch a fish without even trying. They were really small lake trout, but they were still good, and we were so busy having fun that we didn’t mind. At one point in our trip, we stopped to make camp next to a decently sized lake. We all used plastic tube tents that we’d string up and roll our sleeping bags through to sleep under. I closed off one end of my tent to keep the wind from coming through and fell asleep like that. The next morning, it was freezing cold, and everything was dark. I thought I’d woken up in the middle of the night, but I could see a chunk of light at the bottom of my tent. I realized it had snowed the night before and

completely covered my tent. None of us were dressed for snow; yes, we had long pants and coats, but we had nothing to fight off the extreme cold. We got right up, quickly ate breakfast, and started out on the trail again; we knew that the sooner we moved, the warmer we would be. My backpacking adventure to Mineral King has always stuck in my mind as one of the most beautiful trips I’ve ever been on. I’ve wanted to go back and do it again since that first trip, but I’ve never had the chance. If the opportunity does come up, though, I’ll definitely take it. I probably won’t hike the 80 miles I did the first time, but just visiting that area again would be enough for me. –Travis Black

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