Monday, September 30, 2013

Our 30th Wedding Anniversary Trips – September 2013

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“Never trust anyone over thirty.” Growing up in the sixties, this was a popular thought among us young people along with, “It’s all downhill after thirty.” However I may have thought at the time, and I don’t remember that so well, nothing could have been further from the truth. I got married when I was thirty and the Lady and I have just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. They have been the happiest and best years of our lives.

Our anniversary date fell midweek so why not celebrate with two weekend trips, make it last, have fun, and do the things we love to do.

We have donated much of our time over the last 25 years to volunteer work that benefits the public. One opportunity is caring for a mountain hut that is available as a rental. A work weekend was scheduled for the weekend prior to our anniversary. We didn’t hesitate to offer our help, especially since we could park our truck on the top of a mountain and stay in our camper.

The Friday night sunset across the Sacramento Valley was wonderful.

Members of our group stayed overnight in the hut.

The lights of the Sacramento metropolitan area were far below.

The weather forecast was for rain on Saturday and clear weather on Sunday. Saturday dawned looking like the forecast was correct.

Clouds were hard against the crest of the Sierra but at dawn a few rays of sunlight found an opening.

The rain started early. It rained hard. It broke off late afternoon and we were able to start our project of removing the front window and replacing dry rot damaged framing around it. The temperature dropped and the precipitation returned as snow.

Right at sunset the storm began to break.

Sunday morning dawned clear and cold, this last morning of summer.

We were surprised to watch three passes by a Chinook helicopter.

The sight of a big Chinook makes me smile. It brings to mind a story. Several years ago we put in many days searching for two missing snowmobilers. A large National Guard Chinook helicopter was used to ferry us into different search areas. We arrived one morning at dawn and waited for the arrival of the big helicopter. This day we were to be joined by Marty and Zeke. Zeke, the search dog, held the record for the deepest find of a buried avalanche victim. It wasn’t celebrated much because the victim was deceased. This day we were to cover a broad area on skis while Zeke did his thing. We all knew if we were successful with Zeke and Marty’s help, we would probably be involved with body recoveries. It would be a long hard day. The helicopter arrived at first light. Marty and Zeke did not. It was confirmed they were enroute. We waited. We had two women on our team, the Lady and Carol. The pilots noticed that right away. They were quickly into conversation with the women, confident that they had a pretty good “chick magnet”, a large and extremely powerful helicopter.
“We can teach you how to fly our helicopter,” they said.
Soon the women were at the controls with the Lady in the pilot’s seat. “Pull up on this stick and the trees get smaller. Push down and the trees get big again.” Flight school ended when Marty and Zeke arrived. We loaded up, went through our preflight check, and watched, felt, and heard; once again, those two huge rotors come to full power and carry us away.

Back to work. First off we swept the snow from the roof to let the sun dry off the shingles and end the dripping of melt water into our work area. We all remarked that the sawsall is one great tool, right up there with the chain saw.

It was a successful day. All was buttoned back up and the building was scraped and really for paint.

Onto the next weekend.

Lucky. We are lucky, damn lucky the way we see things. And we know it. And we know it’s not something to take for granted. A stable home, jobs, love, respect, adventure, wonderful friends are all ingredients that make our lives complete. Thirty years have brought changes. We have seen a lot, weathered storms; all, we hope, has brought us a measure or depth of wisdom, passion, compassion, understanding, and humanness. All in all it is still a sheer joy to share a mountain top vista together; to just be with each other.

Friends, two very special friends are Jim & Nancy. They have been mentioned from time to time in our stories here. They were along on the Leavitt Meadows trip. They’re the ones that told us about Ophir, Nevada and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. For years we have celebrated our friendship with an annual fall hike. This year would be very different, incredibly different, incredibly hard. Nancy passed away in July.

The Lady offered it up to Jim, join us on a quick weekend camping trip close to home. We’d do some hiking. We’d take it slow. This would be another first step for all of us.

Jim joined us Friday evening in South Lake Tahoe after our annual eye check up. Our eye doc and his wife are also close friends. We all had dinner together and then we, Jim’s big camper and our little camper, headed south to the Blue Lakes area. Blue Lakes is heavily used and camping is restricted to campgrounds run by PG&E. But, this time of year things are winding down. We easily found two spots next to each other in the Upper Blue Lakes Campground.

Saturday morning was calm and the vistas as we could have wished for.

There is almost nothing that the Lady likes more than route finding cross country, whether with boots or on skis. Today would be a day for the Lady, for all of us.

We hit the top of the ridge west of Upper Blue Lake and looked down into the Devils Corral, a place we passed through on one of our epic fall hikes. We pulled out the map. I asked the Lady, “What is the relationship of that granite knob,” I pointed to the prominent peak to our south, “to Granite Lake?” The Lady studied the map. “Granite Lake is just below that point on the other side.” “Take us to Granite Lake,” I suggested. We love to hone our skills with little exercises and continuous practice.

We stopped just off the top of the knob. Granite Lake was not visible. It’s always like this.

The Lady and Jim both studied the map. “We’re right at the top of this drainage that drops down to the south, southwest. We’re right where we're suppose to be. Granite Lake is just to our east, just over that little rise.”

We started down……………………..

……………………and intersected the trail that passes Granite Lake. Would Granite Lake be just over that little rise?

We enjoyed a long break. We shared memories and stories. We climbed to the high point on the opposite side of the lake. We found the neatest western juniper hugging the granite.

We headed out on a circle route back to the campground. I enjoyed the red accents in the granite.

As we walked around Upper Blue Lake, a bald eagle soared high over our heads.

We turned in after a well played game of Scrabble. The final scores were 200, 199, and 194. You can hardly get a closer match than that.

In the morning the wind was strong, bringing in the bottom edge of the front slamming into the Pacific Northwest.

We packed up camp and left Jim’s truck at a trailhead parking. We took our 4x4 truck up the Forestdale Divide Road toward the summit. First we explored around the Lost Lakes area, the headwaters of the West Fork of the Carson River. We climbed out to a view spot and looked down at Faith, Charity, and Hope valleys out to the north east. We touched the glacial striations in the volcanic rock at our feet.  

We circled the two Lost Lakes. The wind was howling. At places it was hard to stand.

We drove the truck up to the top of Forestdale Divide. Out before us was Elephants Back, Red Lake Peak, Stevens Peak, Waterhouse Peak, all places we have skied for years. This is home.

The summit vista to the east.

Yes, this is home. This is our joy and the fabric that holds us together.

This was our anniversary.

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