Saturday, November 29, 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sequoia National Park Backpacking - The Race of Turtle and Rabbit

This is the place where I often upload some photos that I took, not really a blog. Most of time, I don't write much here. This time, I like to write something down, and it is going to be long.

After a long labor day weekend backpacking trip to the Sequoia National Park, during the breakfast next morning, I asked my son, Andrew, to tell Mom what is the best part of the outing. He paused for a second and then said, "The turtle and rabbit had a race, and the turtle won, yeah!"

Everything was planned well until everyone met at the parking lot and ready to go. When most people showed up, we were missing one driver and the car for some unexpected (or expected unexpected, is this correct language?) issue and we had to wait, but everything turned out to be OK.

After some delays, the troop was on the road heading north. It was a long weekend. As expected, the traffic wasn't idea. Long story short, we finally arrived at our camp site, the trail head parking lot, at around 3am in the early morning. Unloaded everything we need in the dark, setup the tent quickly and went to sleep, or just closed the eyes waiting for the dawn.

In the morning, I  could finally see where I were sleeping. On the information board, there are something that I really like:

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that wildness is necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”

― John Muir 

Because of the long weekend, a lot of hikers showed up in the morning. After breakfast, when we were ready to leave, our driver noticed a rock stuck in between the tires of the RV. We had to release the air in the tire to get the rock out, and refilled the air back. It was just before the noon time when we finally got on the trail.

Our first destination is the Jennie Lake. The trail is uphill, about 1000ft up from the trail head parking lot. When we arrived at the lake, the time was 3:50pm. 

Scouts couldn't wait to jump into the water.

I couldn't wait for a cup of coffee.

A duck was trapped by the fishing string, and they had to work it out to release the duck. I missed the photos, but the duck was so happy to be free.

The fresh fish, and freshly cooked.

The next morning, scouts had so much fun at the lake and didn't want to leave. Around 11:40am, everyone finally got ready for the next destination, Weaver Lake.

Lunch break. Scouts planned a cooked lunch, which took extra longer time. After lunch, the story began. Scout leader agreed to the request to split the troop into two groups. Adults raised some concerns but eventually followed the decision made by the scouts.

Shortly after the first group disappeared, I began to realize that I had some responsibilities on my shoulder that I wasn't fully prepared for, and noticed that the situation may be a little worse than I thought. The troop first aid kit was with the other group, and we didn't have a way to communicate between two groups. It didn't appear to me that any scouts were able to share any more weight from weaker scouts in this group. The list was going longer and longer in my mind. I asked one adult member if I could take a little weight from her, since she didn't feel well last night. She passed over her sleeping pad and the tent posts. 

When we were just about to carry on after a break, one scout had blood noses due to the dryness. This added another 20 minutes or so to the delay. I looked at the time, and knew for sure we were going to hike in the dark. When we got to the trail junction, scouts wanted to have a rest. I pushed everyone a little, said that it wound be much flat or down hill from here according to the map, and if we could walk for another 15 minutes or so, we could have a break so that we would have more energy for the uphill in front of us. Everyone agreed.

I didn't have much experience in the wilderness. This was my 3rd backpacking. One thing I know for sure is that the water is more important than the food. So during the break, I asked everyone to check their water. I noticed that the scouts cooked the lunch using Andrew's water and he didn't refill the bottle, and only had less than half liter left. Others were also low. We still had more than half way to go, and it would be uphill for a while. I talked with another adult that we should refill the water. We would cross 4 creaks, so if we saw any water in the creak that could be used, we should stop and refill. Luckily, I had a water filter in my backpack that I carried for someone else. 

The view was beautiful, but we need to get down to the bottom of the valley, and climb up the mountain in front of us. When we got to the bottom of the valley crossing the creak, we refilled the water as planed and I felt much better and secured.

I knew we couldn't afford to make any mistakes. We wouldn't have any more energy and time for any errors. I had my cell phone that I pre-loaded a simple OSM map, and I had a fully charged backup battery with me that would last for another 24 hours. Initially I was just curious about the free GPS app and wanted to check it out how good it is. Now, all of sudden, this became life saver. With this simple GPS and the printed map, I made sure that the group were heading toward the right direction without any doubt.

Very soon, we were hiking in the dark. Once we were at the trail junction near the Weaver lake, I was relieved. We only needed another 15 minutes to have a nice warm dinner for reward.

We could see the lake, and we could see the camp fire, and everyone believed one of those fires was ours. But something didn't appear to be right. No one from another group were greeting these exhausted turtles. There were no sign of the fast rabbits. 

We hiked a short distance along the lake. I noticed that everyone couldn't move any further. We stopped at a camp fire made by a gentleman with his son. His son was already sleeping, and he was about to sleep too. We thanked him for letting us to stay around the fire. I told the group to stay together, and I would try to walk around the area, see if I could find them. I had a pair of walkie talkie in my backpack for no particular reason. I left one to the group and had one with me and started searching around. It was dark. I couldn't see far enough, couldn't see the trail, everywhere were rocky. I tripped and felt down, bumped my head to a huge rock, almost broke the camera that I forgot to leave to the group. This didn't knock me unconscious, but instead woke me up. I realized that the only logical answer to the situation was that the fast group was not here for whatever reason. It would be worthless to keep searching. Those rabbits with two old goats are much more experienced than we are, and I couldn't believe that they were that stupid to pick up a camp site that we had to search for in the dark. The lake was only palm size big, if they were here somewhere around the lake, they could hear our whisper. I don't know what happened, but unless the whole group went to the moon, there must be something prevented them to get here sooner than us. I did't think getting lost was the reason, how could they get lost?

I went back to the group, and said that we would not search anymore, just wait here for them. We started to check our gears and foods. Scouts were hungry, so five kids shared a bag of Mountain House. I didn't have anything for dinner. I believe two other adults didn't have anything either. One of them didn't want to give up, so walked around the lake one more time, ended up nothing. The other group wasn't here, period.

We had enough tent space, only short one sleeping bag. It was carried by the other group. I helped to setup the tent, made sure everyone had a space to sleep, and then went into my tent and started to wonder.

When I woke up next morning, I walked around a little and wonder what happened last night, and didn't see any sign of the other group.

I made a cup of coffee and shared last one with other member. Then all of sudden from no where, two rabbits showed up. They were fast, but went too far in the wrong direction, went out of area of the map we had for the hiking, and arrived the camp site in the midnight. The result was clear, the turtles won the race. It wasn't just a moral story, it is a true story. 

Later, I learned that the scouts are encouraged not to use modern GPS, but instead, to learn how to use the map and compass. I am not an advanced hiker, and will feel much more safer if I have a GPS to guide me. Without the simple GPS on my cell phone this time, I would be much more concerned and not 100% sure if we could make it. Lesson learned. And thanks for everyone staying together. We made it.

And here are some scenic pictures. Both lakes are small but clear and peaceful.

This is the map. Red line is the hiking loop that we hiked. Blue line is where these rabbits went.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Havasupai Backpacking

Havasupai Backpacking. 5 days 4 nights. Such a wonderful trip, amazing. Will do it again!

First night, camped at Grand Canyon Caverns.

Trail Head. Hilltop Parking Lot.

Get down the trail.

Havasupai Navajo fall

Havasu Creek

Havasupai Mooney fall

Havasu Creek. On the way to Beaver Fall

Beaver Fall

Havasu Fall

Camp Ground

 Back to the Hilltop parking lot.