In The High Sierra ~ Mount Whitney (1982 & 1983)

Up until 2008, our adventures were retained only as memories and on 35mm slides. While our memories may have faded (just a bit), the slides haven’t – and we have a lot of them. So we’re digitizing a select few to bring some of our past adventures into the 21st Century. The photos below are some of those old slides.


Sometime in the 1990s, we were in an Independence restaurant eating breakfast, having just come down from a climb in the High Sierra. Suddenly shouting erupted outside and I looked-up to see a man running down the sidewalk yelling and waving a piece of paper. Angst over a parking ticket? A lottery winner? As he zoomed past the restaurant and on up the street, we could hear him screaming: “Hans! Hans! We have the permit! We have the permit!” Apparently he and Hans had come all the way from Germany to climb Mount Whitney (14,494 feet (4,416 m)), the highest point and arguably the most famous – or at least the best known – peak in the continental United States. Even then, people came from all over to climb it. But the permit requirements had begun hardening in the mid-1980s and now concessionaires or rangers were around to enforce them. These two hadn’t gotten a permit in advance and were justifiably ecstatic about snagging a rare walk-up one. Considering Whitney’s current level of popularity, having that happen today would exceed the miraculous.

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A First Ascent in the Sierra Nevada (September 1984)

Up until 2008, our adventures were retained only as memories and on 35mm slides. While our memories may have faded (just a bit), the slides haven’t – and we have a lot of them. So we’re digitizing a select few to bring some of our past adventures into the 21st Century. The photos below are some of those old slides.


The LovedOne and I watched Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey (2017) the other night.  It was a very balanced and entertaining account of probably the most accomplished, influential, but not necessarily easy to get along with, climber of his time.  His absolutely singular focus on climbing and mountaineering garnered him almost 1,000 first ascents of new routes and of previously unclimbed mountains.  Watching the movie chronicle Beckey’s exploits dredged-up the memory of the one (and only and unintended) first ascent of my 30-year amateur climbing career.  While Beckey’s first ascents occupy the stratosphere of mountaineering legend, ours was a much, much humbler affair.  But it still seems like a good story…

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Hike of the Seven Gables (September 1995)

Up until 2008, our adventures were retained only as memories and on 35mm slides. While our memories may have faded (just a bit), the slides haven’t – and we have a lot of them. So we’re digitizing a select few to bring some of our past adventures into the 21st Century. The photos below are some of those old slides.


I guess every cult has some sort of initiation ritual. Wayne, Diane, and I became charter members of the cult of tough and stupid (T&S) thanks to our frozen suffer-fest on Telescope way (way) back in the day. After that experience, our paths diverged and converged at random intervals for the next twenty years or so as life had its way with us. Then, in 1990, Linda (aka The LovedOne) took me by storm [reminder to self – 2020 is our 30th wedding anniversary 🙂 ❤ ]. So, naturally, I petitioned Wayne and Diane to let her join our cult. While they acknowledged that marrying me may have a stupid aspect to it, that alone didn’t meet the unspecified, but strict, standards of the T&S cult. No, only a backpacking trip in the Sierras would be sufficient to test Linda’s bona fides (and let her see stupid stuff done by “experts”).

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Kearsarge Peak ~ Sierra Nevada (April 1990)

Up until 2008, our adventures were retained only as memories and on 35mm slides. While our memories may have faded (just a bit), the slides haven’t – and we have a lot of them. So we’re digitizing a select few to bring some of our past adventures into the 21st Century. The photos below are some of those old slides.


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Gary Croan’s John Muir Trail (August 1956)

The other day The LovedOne brought home a small book from the “free” box at the library. It turned out to be a 5th Edition (1953) of Starr’s Guide to the John Muir Trail and the High Sierra Region (purchased from the still extant Vroman’s Books in Pasadena, California). The guide’s paper dust jacket was still in good condition, so it was somewhat of a rare find (at least for us trail guide geeks). Even rarer were the notes I found inside: Log of the John Muir Trail Hike by Gary Croan (August 1956). These detailed the backpack Gary’s Scout troop did along the Muir Trail that summer from Yosemite Valley to Florence Lake. Also included were his personal gear list and a brochure for Dri-Lite Foods, one of the pioneers in freeze dried foods.[1] His troop appears to have been based in the Los Angeles area, which meant they got to Yosemite Valley on [now old] Highway 99 since Interstate-5 didn’t exist in 1956. I’ve found brief notes in old guidebooks before, but this is the first set I’ve found detailing a backpack on an iconic trail in the days before permits and crowds and freeways. That he described the same backpack I did in August of 1972, sans scouts and going as far as Piute Creek, is a remarkable coincidence.  I am not, however, reproducing Gary’s notes here as some nostalgic paean to the “good old days” – as hindsight tends to accentuate the “good” and edit out the “bad” – but merely as a look at a young person’s outdoor experience in a now bygone era.[2]

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Marie Louise Lakes (John Muir Wilderness) 28-Sep-2018

Marie Louise Lakes John Muir Wilderness California

While we enjoyed our visit to Death Valley, going up to the Sierra Nevada was a welcome relief from the valley’s triple digit heat. For our first Fall color hike, we selected a loop around Chocolate Peak southwest of South Lake in the John Muir Wilderness.  We added a short side trip to the Marie Louise Lakes simply because that’s where I’d had my very first backpacking experience (and several other outdoor firsts as well). I just wanted The LovedOne to see where my obsession with the outdoors and love of the Sierra Nevada got their starts. So Fall color enlivened with a little nostalgia…

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Ramblings in the Sierra Nevada 02-Aug-2016

Earlier this year, my brother-in-law (Russ), nephew (Bart), and myself planned a multi-day backpack through California’s John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  I jumped through the permitting hoops for this and we all wrangled with what constituted a bear canister acceptable to both the Forest Service and the National Park Service.  Sadly, neither bureaucracy has officially recognized the UrSack (my preferred food storage container), so we were stuck with those unwieldy and hard-to-pack plastic barrels.  But there are good reasons for the permits and the canisters, so we worked through it all and were ready to go by late July.  I spent the night before their arrival (they were flying out from the East Coast) in Bridgeport, California and, early the next morning, drove down to the Virginia Lakes trailhead – one of the gateways to the Hoover Wilderness (details) – to get in a short warmup hike before going on to meet them in Bishop.

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Echo Col Loop (John Muir Wilderness) 6/12-Aug-2012

Echo Col Lake Sabrina John Muir Wilderness California

The big trip this year was a backpack through the Evolution Basin region in California’s John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. The trip was partly on trail (the John Muir Trail (JMT)) and partly cross-country. Weather was generally excellent, except for afternoon thunderstorms, the worst ravishes of which we were able to mostly avoid until the last day. It’s been a drought year in the Sierras, so there was no late season snowpack to speak of and we were thus spared the need to carry ice axes and crampons that might otherwise have been needed for safety on some of the cross-country segments.

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