Monday, August 29, 2011


Jane woke up this morning, ate breakfast and, as the kids were rushing out the door with backpacks, packed lunches and forlorn faces, she found her way back to bed.

I found her a few minutes later like this:

I thought about waking her up. For a second.

She's still sleeping. She's such an angel when she's sleeping.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

An Open Letter to the Yosemite High Sierra Camps:

All of us at one of the trail markers.

Dear Yosemite Views,

Seriously. You’re that vain? I mean, there wasn’t a bad side to you. You’re extremely photogenic, from every angle. Really. I mean, streams, rivers, flowers, granite faces touched by watermelon snow, still lakes, valleys, meadows, even your dust has a bit of charm (except when it’s in my teeth).

We’ll get back to the views later on.

Ah, the flowers. THE FLOWERS!

Dear Sierra Camp Chefs,

I know you started out at the Ahwahnee and all that, so it must be difficult to be roughing it in a rock-housed kitchen with no electricity—your only food brought to you by mule. But really, you’ve outdone yourselves. I mean, just look at the menus: cheese penne pasta with blackberry-sauced chicken, hand stuffed ravioli, sautéed garden vegetables, almond-encrusted salmon with rice pilaf and asparagus, pork carnitas with green garlic salsa and cream, and chicken alfredo with sautéed zucchini and summer squash. Oh, plus the desserts: warm chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake with strawberry-sized raspberries, mountain berry cobbler, oh, and pumpkin cheesecake.

That’s not even touching on the breakfasts full of pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, stick-to-your-ribs oatmeal and plenty of hot drinks.

Well done chefs. Well done.

P.S. Not that I’m complaining, but there was an exorbitant amount of broccoli.

One of our meals. Really.

Dear Ranger Mike,

Thank you for your campfire on bears, your campfire on wilderness areas, your songs, sharing your knowledge of the history of Yosemite, and being enthusiastic about everything. You rock.

P.S. Love your John Muir impersonations. Spot on.

Dear Bears,

Thank you for leaving us alone.

Dear Tenaya Lake,

Why were you so charming for my children? Because of you, we lost precious minutes on the trail to wading and swimming and adoring.

Lily at Lake Tenaya

Dear trail to Sunrise,

Why were you so deceivingly difficult? We thought we had you under our belts when we got to Sunrise lakes, but we were wrong. You meandered FOREVER.

Dear Sunrise Camp showers,

You were almost too hot. If that’s possible.

Dear mosquitoes,

What the hell? Seriously, go pester someone else. And do you have to travel in herds?

Canyon & I attempting to ward off mosquitoes.

Dear Sunrise Camp sunrise,

Wow. Now I get where you got your name.

Dear Camp Merced,

You were a delicious site at the end of a long, long ten-mile day. Because of your path, we learned all the states and their capitols, the phonetic alphabet, and played twenty questions a THOUSAND times. But you were worth it. A beautiful lake and icy cold river to soak our weary feet.

Dear lifesavers,

You were lifesavers. Literally.

Dear Ranger Mike,

Why didn’t you tell us about the two-mile shortcut? Seriously.

Dear trek to Vogelsang,

You suck. Oh, except for the beautiful meadows. I’ll forgive the 3,000 foot climb in seven miles for the views at the meadow.

Dear Stars,

You were so bright, it hurt my eyes.

Dear Dustin,

Your pack was at least ten pounds heavier than mine. Thanks for carrying the tent and also thanks for offering me your sleeping pad when mine sprung a leak. You were a great motivator and photographer. I know sometimes I seemed kind of grumpy. It wasn’t me, me hips were just tired.

The four of us with our packs.

Dear Scott & Katrina,

Thanks for coming with us. You were awesome. Thanks for always getting extra apples for our lunches and always knowing when we needed a break to soak our feet in a stream. Also, I don’t know what we would’ve done without your homemade trail mix, you know, the one with the spicy ginger. Mm, I’m still thinking about it.

Papa Scott and Canyon.

Dear Sue,

Thanks for the Ambien. It became a hot commodity on the trail. I traded it for all kinds of useful things. Plus, I slept really well every night.

Dear fellow hikers on the trail,

I love you. You would always say hello and stop and tell us what we had to look forward to next. And we would tell you about your path. And we would compare notes and point out views and streams. And we were so amiable to each other. Except for you one guys, you know who you are, who laughed at us when we asked if we were getting closer.

Dear Donna,

Thanks for hiking with us and taking pictures for us. You were a great companion and a strong hiker. You deserve a medal for your one hundred and one mosquito bites and your many blisters. I never heard you complain.

Dear army guys who had a conversation with me while I was showering with the sun-shower,

That was awkward.

Dear sunsets,

Pink and granite go together really well. As do shimmering lakes, white firs and silvery meadows. I also enjoyed the colorful tents lighting up each night as flashlights shone through: glowing neon domes.

Dear Lily and Canyon,

Wow. I’m really proud of you. You climbed like rock stars, or mountain goats or something. You were amazing and you didn’t complain. You carried your packs and drank your water and peed. You peed a lot. Every ten minutes. I never worried about dehydration.

You were funny and poignant and curious all at the same time. I hope you remember this trip forever and ever, cause I will.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


We just completed our busiest week. And are about to embark on, what I hope will be, a relaxing week of backpacking.

We're taking Lily and Canyon on our fifty-miler, leaving tomorrow.

Wish us luck.

I'm trying not to think about starting school the minute we get back. I officially hate school.

See you in a week.