Kearsarge Pass to Gardiner Basin

Glen Pass to Sixty Lakes Basin

Bishop, CA — I was sitting in the dark across from the police station, back against an oak tree. My toes chilled in the damp grass, a balmy relief from the hot night air. I slowly peeled the duct tape and blister pads off of my feet and called my girlfriend, Gianna. It had been one week since we last spoke. “I’m alive,” I claimed, trying to reassure myself as much as her.

Less than one month ago, I was stuck in a rut. I was a salary man, travelling for work every week for almost a year and half. It was wearing me down. Hungry for a way out, I kept my eyes and ears open. The ideal company for my next career move found me first before I even had a chance to apply. I negotiated to start three months down the road, securing one last summer vacation. I gave notice and two weeks later, I quit my job.

One week ago, I was making plans, tying up loose ends and packing my car. My friend Chrix and I contacted the Sierra Mountain Center in Bishop and signed up for an ambitious six-day backcountry ski tour. Both of us are lifelong skiers and backpackers, but we had both only started backcountry ski touring at the beginning of the season. We were enthusiastic but had barely an inkling of what we were in for.

I drove to Santa Barbara, borrowed my mother’s Roadtrek Popular 190 Class B motorhome (henceforth known as “the van”) and left for the Eastern Sierra on my 26th birthday. That night I pulled up to the 8360′ trailhead to Mount Whitney. I came for the acclimation but stayed for the stargazing. Awed by the looming presence of the east buttress in the morning light, I vowed to return for the real 14,505′ treasure.

The next day was spent sorting gear at Mammoth Mountaineering, and finding an appropriate place to park the van. Chrix drove the long way from San Francisco across Carson Pass and met me in the parking lot across from the Bishop Police Station. Our excitement was palpable. “Tomorrow, it begins”.

This was the beginning of a several month walkabout exploring my new backyard in California, taking me from the Eastern Sierra to the Southern Cascades, Mt. Whitney to Mt. Shasta, the Lower Owens to the Upper McCloud. I will be chronicling my favorite stories from this time.


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