My husband and sons laughed at the Big Dig. Okay, maybe a titanium cathole sanitation trowel was over the top, but its weight—or rather, its lack thereof—made it a necessity in my book. After a strenuous hike with a backpack full of heavy, twenty-year-old gear in July (now enshrined in family lore as the Trail of Tears), I admit I’d developed a slight obsession with lightening up. And every ounce I saved in equipment meant I could carry more food and wine. It’s important to have priorities, right?
On the morning we hiked out of Agnew Meadows into the Ansel Adams Wilderness, my pack weighed in at a trim twenty-seven pounds, thanks to a new lighter-than-air sleeping bag and ground pad, titanium plate and spork, and, of course, the Big Dig. I felt confident I could manage the eight miles to Thousand Island Lake without whining.
Five hours later, after a spectacular trek along the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River, we reached the lake. The first glimpse of Thousand Island took my breath away, both literally and metaphorically (altitude: 9,833 feet). Words—my words anyway—are inadequate, so I’ll let John Muir do the honors: “Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.” (My First Summer in the Sierra; free as an e-book on Amazon!)
Shoes off, tent pitched, a nice Pinot Noir in my titanium cup, it was time to bask in the incredible scenery and rest both body and soul. True freedom, indeed, and worth every step.
Next time: life lessons from my go-light quest. Oh, and my novel, Yard Sale, is available on Amazon.