After a five hour uphill hike winding through the trees, we arrived at the most surreal vista. Across a smooth clear lake, a granite mountain rose. It felt unreal; I was seeing a picture that I had saved from Pinterest but in person. It didn’t seem right, but my throbbing feet let me know that I had indeed hiked to this wonderland.
We began Backpacking 101 in a classroom learning about equipment, leaving no trace, and encountering animals. My fear of running into wildlife has been abated. We learned several things we can do, but in reality it is up to the animal. Up in the mountains, it was too beautiful to believe that a bear might be out there even after we passed a pile of bear scat and setting our bear cans away from our tents, and even learning how to hang a bear bag. But as darkness descended, the fear crept back. I didn’t want to be woken by a bear in our camp, and I didn’t want to go to the bathroom by myself. I made it through the night without a problem and the fear dissipated again.
I am now more comfortable about the idea of spending a week in the wilderness. Yes, we will come across the piles of scat and other signs of wildlife, we might even come across an animal, but we will do our best to be safe. I have a new confidence. There are four of us; we are noisy and know how to have fun. We are comfortable with each other and lapses of silence. But I don’t know that I would be so ready for this trip without taking Backpacking 101 from the Tahoe Rim Trail Association. This is a class that I would recommend to anyone planning on starting backpacking or getting back into it after years without backpacking.
We had four creek crossings, each with its own obstacles and variants of difficulty. There were two sets of switchbacks and a series of stairs. We crossed a meadow of wildflowers and ate lunch in the trees. But it was all building up to stepping off the trail onto a large smooth piece of granite to look out across a lake at the picturesque mountain side and soaking my tired feet in the cool water.