Older Scout Sierra Trek Write Up

Older Scout Sierra Trek
August 7th 2016 – August 17th 2016
Ben Zevallos
As we all gathered in the Big 5 parking lot that chilly Sunday morning, we knew we were in for quite an adventure. Right off the bat, everyone was eager to get on the trail, and seeing our crew together for the first time only brought the reality of starting our grueling yet rewarding adventure to reality. We traveled for 4 hours to the Sierra base camp that we were staying at for the night, and after a delicious (non freeze dried) meal of pasta and sauce and some guitar playing around the fire, we retired to our tents for the first time of the trip.
Getting on the trail was of course an exhilarating moment. After a quick cold breakfast, we packed our backpacks into cars and we were on our way to the trailhead. We took a few photos next to the infamous starting point, and we were on our way. We hiked for around 8 miles, with our packs weighing the most out of all the days of the trip, and the poundage plus the elevation gain made the first day no easy task. We arrived and set up camp, and some of us dipped in the little water pools at the base of a waterfall. It was a great start to an even better trip.
We left the second camp site bright and early in the morning, eager to continue our journey, and we were off to a fast pace. We passed a beautiful campground, known as Bearpaw lodge, and we all stopped for a magnificent view of some mountains. It lifted all of our spirits to see that we only had 4 more miles left to our next destination: The beautiful “Hamilton Lake”. After this much needed rest, we were on our way, and 4 miles later we all made it to the camp.
At Hamilton Lake, we all got a nice layover day. No hiking at all, just good times, and relaxing. Although many scouts and leaders tried their luck at fishing, there was no success this time around. Even though the lack of fish was disappointing, the mere fact that we had a break was good enough to fuel the high spirits. We had two peaceful meals, and lots of swimming in the lake. Definitely a day to remember!
Leaving a campsite after a layover is always a challenge, but many of us were ready to continue the trek. We got up early, and started ascending some switchbacks. As we continued on the trail, we got beautiful viewpoints of the lake and surrounding areas as well. We climbed a pass which was difficult, but after enjoyed a great downhill hike down to Big Arroyo campground. We met a friendly ranger, and had a communal fire at night.
We left Big Arroyo early, and headed for our next destination, Moraine Lake. The hike up, although there was much elevation, was not too challenging for everyone, and we got to the Lake at a brisk pace. There, we were able to swim in the refreshing, oddly warm water, and had quite a lot of time to relax. This camp was surely one of the nicer spots of the trip.
After Moraine Lake, we journeyed to the infamous Kern Hot Springs. We met a couple spritely rattlesnakes along the way, and that element of danger kept us all on our toes. Other than those excitements, it was an average hike. We arrived at the springs in the middle of the day, and we got to swim in the freezing cold river. A huge upside to this camp was the fact that there was a tub that could be filled with piping hot natural spring water. This led to some close corners and new friends… need I say more. This was an interesting but fantastic campsite.
Leaving Kern Springs, we were headed for a straight shoot up to Junction Meadow. This was easily our fastest hike, and all the scouts were clearly excited about the pace that we had set. We arrived at Junction before noon, which gave us loads of time to relax and reflect about the trip thus far. The river was cold but refreshing and our pesto pasta dinner put a smile on everyone’s face.
Leaving Junction was tough, because everyone knew that the hike from Junction to Crabtree would be the hardest thus far. We started with a modest pace, after a hearty breakfast, and before we knew it, we made it to Crabtree. At that point, the elevation was very high, so we were all advised to stay relaxed and not over work ourselves. That didn’t stop some scouts from playing a little hacky sack and tossing the friz, but in the end everyone dealt with the altitude perfectly. We all got into our tents early that night, knowing that the following day would be a big one.
Waking up that morning was exciting and definitely nerve racking. We got to sleep in a bit, which was nice, but it simply prolonged the start of a strenuous journey that lay ahead. We had a mediocre breakfast of Cheesy Mash Potatoes, and after packing up our sites, we were on our way. We hiked to a nice area called “Guitar Lake” and had dinner for lunch, knowing that there would be no water on top of the mountain. After that quick meal, we ascended countless switchbacks to the top. After that brutal stretch of 3 or 4 miles, it was time to ascend the actual mountain. The 2 mile stretch up was truly not as bad as the first part of the hike, and the adrenaline that was contrived from the thought of the peak drove every last scout and adult up the mountain. Arriving at the top was an incredible moment for all of us, and falling asleep amongst the stars (although all the scouts slept in a cozy little cabin) was breathtaking.
There are endless ways of getting woken up that would be better than Europeans shining a horridly bright flashlight in your face, and yelling in Armenian at a more than room volume pitch. Although we didn’t quite manage to attain our beauty sleep, being shoved up against the cold stone walls of the Whitney Cabin and marveling at the beautiful sunrise are definitely memories nobody would forget. After a grueling hike of 11 miles to the Whitney portal, and some communal singing (yelling) down the trail, our crew finally made it to our destination. All showered up and fed a meal of sandwiches straight from SB, we started our journey back to the homeland.


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