Mount Lassen, Pt. 1

I’ve been planning this backpacking trip with my girls for a long time. Well, I’ve been planning to take them backpacking since they were BORN. But this particular trip has been a long time in the works as well. There were a lot of logistics to get into place, not to mention a lot of gear to locate or purchase. (Another time I’ll do a separate post about our evolving gear list. Especially for kids, who are doing stuff like growing out of shoes before we can get home from the store (hyperbole! but barely), it’s a challenge locating gear that is sufficiently sturdy but also doesn’t destroy our budget).

After a whole lot of research (ie reading hiking blogs and generally daydreaming), I decided on Mount Lassen National Park. There are some great loop trails, the geology of the area is historically interesting (boring, Mom!) and visually exciting (yay!). It’s only about 4 hours from Sacramento, but it turns out that Lassen is one of the least visited national parks in the country. Everyone heads to Yosemite or other desitinations in the High Sierra, but we were headed north to volcano country! Bonus, a tiny portion of the trail we are to hike intersects with the PCT. Not gonna lie, that had a lot to do with my decision. I wanted my feet on the trail, even for a mile and a half.

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Learning a Lesson

This post is only about a month late. Next up: the story of how altitude hates me and taking my girls backpacking for the first time!

I’ve been itching to get back out on the trail, especially since I want to test out my new Gregory Jade. But every weekend, EVERY WEEKEND, there is life happening that prevents hiking. One weekend–sick daughters. Another–work. Always more life that isn’t hiking. So I finally determined that I would go, alone if necessary, no matter what. I decided to hike Steven’s Trail outside of Colfax because the trailhead is right off the freeway and it promised some really amazing views of the river and a bit of challenge for shaking down my new pack. Also, is there a cave? I think there’s also a cave!

But of course, the week prior was just one long migraine for me. For those who don’t suffer from migraines (or have someone like me in your life constantly complaining about them), let me fill you in. Migraines travel in packs (herds? murders? yeah, murders) and they tend to snowball. One migraine creates neck and shoulder tension which leads to another bigger migraine which interrupts your sleep which sets you up for another and so forth. I’d been popping my Imitrex pretty much nonstop (maybe not the best plan?) but by Sunday I felt really strong and wanted to hike. Dammit. So off I went, alone as per usual…

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All my hikes are selfie hikes. *sigh*

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One Time When We Were Young

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Mt Lassen, 1995

These were my boys and I was one of them. We were all each other’s best friends. We shattered each other, building confidences and telling one another the stories we believed about ourselves and the world, then inevitably re-formed. A unit that was unbreakable and also already fracturing along the lines of life.

We were delightedly foolish together. We built ludicrously large bonfires on the beach of the South Jetty, hiked with outdated maps deep into the Trinity Alps, trespassing on Hoopa tribal lands while we crisscrossed ridges and gulches that didn’t have names, ending up–miraculously–back on a road only minutes (not miles) from our car. We carried heavy, secret beer for miles and miles and drank it warm and fizzy. We slept in a row on the beach underneath all the stars in the universe, listening to the waves rolling from the across the entire sea and woke to find our car drifted to the axles in soft heavy sand. We were safe and free in the outdoors–the rivers and beaches and sprawling redwood forest. We recognized them and they remembered us. We marked time–the time we had no way of knowing was exquisite and irreplaceable–waiting to become grown-ups, to leave.We smoked weak joints and sang loud songs and flirted and talked and held on to each other when it became clear that everything was starting to drift apart. Continue reading “One Time When We Were Young”