A couple weeks ago we (Joe and Michelle Drago, Micheal, Mikayla and Daisy Drago, and Lance and Teresa Hislop) rolled out of the driveway, on to the freeway, and then onto a winding mountain road that took us to the trail leading to Grandaddy Basin.
It was raining steadily by the time we arrived at the trailhead, not a downpour but not a sprinkle either. We put our backpacks and ponchos on and headed up the trail. I think it was about a 5 mile hike in…. I do not know exactly what the distance was but I do know that it rained the whole hike. The wind was not bad and the temperature was moderate so it was not nearly as miserable as it could have been. It was wet though, and wet turns to cold quickly. Lance shivered vigorously but it was nothing warm beef stew, hot apple cider, and a pair of dry wool socks couldn’t fix.
Blessedly the rain stopped falling about the same time we stopped hiking. We set up camp on a knoll above Grandaddy Lake. It was far enough from the lake to be legal for camping (200 feet) but not far enough away for a legal campfire (must be 440 yards). Lance hauled wood to the site, which we did not use. I heated water, which we did use. Joe took his fishing pole to the lake, which he did use to cast but did not use to hook anything. He also almost did not find his way back to camp. After an hour of wandering and as he was making a back up plan to spend the night with other campers, we heard his hollers and Marco Polo-ed him back to camp.
We began the next day’s adventures with a scouting mission. The goal: to find a campsite a quarter mile away from a lake that was flat, had an ample wood supply, and was far enough off the beaten path to give us privacy. About a mile from our first night’s camp Michelle found a site that met all the requirements. It was beautiful, peaceful, and almost mosquito-free too. Perfect! We walked back to the Grandaddy Lake camp, packed everything up, donned our backpacks again (Oh the joy!!), and hiked to what would be our home for the next three days.
And what a great three days it was!!! The men fished Mohawk Lake (twice with moderate success both times) and Fish Hatchery Lake (once with no success). The ladies read books, admired wildflowers, and chatted. Joe caught the biggest fish and Lance caught the oldest. I read my traditional Louis LAmour book. Mikaykla lost and found Daisy. Michelle saw a coyote pursuing a fleeing fawn. “Run, baby, run!!!” she yelled. Michael started fires, chopped wood and hauled water and navigated. (Note to self: Bring Micheal on every backpacking trip!) All of us admired the scenery…..gorgeous meadows lush with wildflowers, springs flowing through rivulets into lakes, lily pads bobbing gently on the water, towering pines piercing the sky….AMAZING!
It was a lovely trip, made especially wonderful by the fact that I shared it with Lance. He is not a huge fan (NOT AT ALL) of backpacking but he bellied up to the bar, so to speak, and came with me. He made a real effort to be present in a good way and I totally, TOTALLY appreciated it.
I love hiking and backpacking. I love, LOVE the physical challenge. I love pushing myself through discomfort, I love moving through exhaustion, and I especially love the feeling of accomplishment that accompanies the throbbing feeling in my feet when it is over. I love the challenge of living minimalist style, of making do or doing without. I also love the problem solving situations that naturally occur when one has to live with only what one carries on one’s back. LOVE IT. And I love, LOVE, LOVE the darling Dragos--such a blessing to have friends who not only accept us for who we are, but also love us the way we are….and who are willing to rain, shine, and adventure with us.
Michelle compiled a list of everyone’s thoughts about the trip. I will end with Michelle’s list and her thoughts..
Joe LIKED: Bringing in a big fish
Having my wife snuggle with me
Watching my son take the lead
Michelle LIKED: Seeing a fawn chased by a coyote
Building a fire with Mikayla that impressed Joe
Seeing a misty mountain rain
Spending time with some of the people I love most in the world
Disliked cold feet
Michael LIKED: Hiking with Daisy
Running a mile with a 40 pound backpack
Getting sunburned and having three women mother me
Mikayla LIKED: Watching Daisy feel more comfortable in the water
Seeing Daisy return to camp in answer to our prayer
Finding Daisy eating the head of Lance’s fish
Disliked the uphill climbs
Teresa LIKED: Hiking around Mohawk Lake
Chatting with Michelle while the men fished
The meadow with the wild flowers
Lance LIKED: My wife being nice to me, ex: chocolate pudding for breakfast
Blocked out the memory of the hiking
Daisy LIKED: Throwing dirt in my food
Running 40 yards out of camp and waiting for everyone to wonder where I was
Leading on the trail
Finding Michelle while she was doing her morning business
MICHELLE: A couple of thoughts about our trip…... Joe wouldn’t have gotten lost if we had left out a light. Heavenly Father has provided beacon’s for us to follow, like the temple, so we don’t get lost.
As we hiked in and out, we shared information with other hikers about how much further we had to go, where the best fishing was, and what bait worked best. We can help others on our journey through life by sharing how far we’ve gone, how much further they have to do, and what has helped us be successful.