Sunday, March 18, 2012


A few weeks ago, when I was at the doctor's office, I asked him what I could do to prevent injury on the trail. "Hike," he replied without hesitation. He went on to explain that many hikers did not hike enough miles in training and, too often the training miles are on flat terrain that does not simulate the PCT.

"But it is really hard to get in enough miles when Sierra has ski team each weekend" I explained. He just looked at me and chuckled. "I didn't say that Sierra needed to train," he laughed. "Sierra has eight-year-old knees".

After so many people questioning whether an 8-year-old could really hike the PCT, my dawning realization that my doctor clearly thought that I, not Sierra, was the weak link in the chain, struck me as both sobering and humorous. And so I train, running with Sierra several times each week and then donning a pack for a long hike and/or cross country ski at least one day each weekend, while Sierra is shredding the snow.

This weekend's destination was Buttermilk Country, best known for the Buttermilk boulders (a bouldering mecca), but also home to miles of trails and dirt roads that are below snow line for most of the year.  Bumping over the washboards on Buttermilk Road I could feel my teeth rattling in my head, but I did not have to drive far before I reached my trailhead, with its sandy, snow-free trail and constant views of Basin Mountain and Mt. Tom, pictured below.

After spending the previous day on the snow, it was strange to be hiking in the high desert wearing only a T-shirt and shorts.  And after years of backpacking and trying to get my pack as light as possible by eliminating what I don't absolutely need it was also strange to be carrying a pack full of dead weight.  But carrying a full pack is better training, so I stuffed my pack with two different tents, 3 extra liters of water, and several other useless items.

Even with a full pack, the miles went by quickly, and the high desert solitude was a welcome contrast to the noise and relative crowds of Mammoth Mountain.

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