Going Home



“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to

find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is

necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as

fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”

¯ John Muir



        John Muir had it right and hiking is the easiest way to experience the

outdoors; if you can walk you can do it.  Hiking also provides one with

endless opportunities to satisfy the inner exploring child in all of us.

One can pick a destination near or far, easy or difficult, simple or

complex.  Finally, hiking is a sport where one can challenge themselves

and can pursue it just as far as they wish to go.

        If you can walk, you can do it.  Every time you leave your house, you are

hiking.  The sights and sounds are familiar but you are hiking.  If you

are like me, you will prefer extended hikes in unfamiliar areas far from

home.  For the beginning hiker, I would recommend comfortable tennis

shoes and a small backpack or camel-back as an absolute minimum.  For the

intermediate hiker, hiking shoes or boots and a day pack or camel-back

will become necessary.  For the advanced or overnight hikers, one will

need heavy waterproof hiking boots, at least a 45 liter backpack,

lightweight sleeping bag, stove and water purifier along with a plethora

of other items.  When deciding what you need or don’t need, consider the

“Ten Essentials” for outdoor travel:


1.        Map

2.        Compass (optionally supplemented with a GPS receiver)

3.        Sunglasses and sunscreen

4.        Extra food

5.        Extra water

6.        Extra clothes

7.        Headlamp / flashlight

8.        First aid kit

9.        Fire starter (matches, chemical heat tabs, canned heat, or a magnesium


10.        Knife


The “Ten Essentials” are essential items but keep in mind that they are

the bare essentials, especially on advanced hikes.  I have my own version

of the essentials but it reads more like the “three essentials”—to

simplify things, I know I will need 1.  Water.  One will die without water

in approximately three days.  2.  Heat.  One can die in 15 minutes buried

in an avalanche.  On the flip side, exposure to heat can cause heat stroke

and death.  3.  Food.  Depending on many factors like weight and age, you

will die in a week or two without food.

        When you decide on what kind of hiking you wish to do and you have all

the gear, the next step is to find a place to go and plan for it.  The

easiest hikes are day hikes, which can be as short as an hour or can last

all day long.  My favorite hiking areas are the Pinnacles, Lake Tahoe and


        The Pinnacles are approximately 20 miles east of Hollister,

California and are made up of red volcanic outcroppings and caves set

amongst chaparral and pine hillsides.  I like hiking the caves(bring

a flashlight), the High Peaks Trail(half to full day hike) or along

Discovery Wall to watch rock climbers grapple with the cliffs.  Best hike

here in winter, spring and fall as it can be over 100 degrees regularly in

the summer.  Bring your own water, the water is suspect even for


        Lake Tahoe’s most accessible hiking is off of Highway 50 or

Interstate 80.  One can summit Lover’s Leap near Strawberry by hiking

east along the old Pony Express Trail and then west, back from the edge

of the cliff, about 2.5 miles one way.  Once on top, one can see the

Tahoe Basin, Mt. Ralston and Pyramid Peak.  There are many rock climbers

here and if you are lucky you may spot some peregrine falcons.  This

would be a snowshoe hike in the winter.  The Strawberry Lodge is a

satisfactory-good grill and bar.  Any hike near Donner Summit off

Interstate 80 is good—Castle Peak, Tinker Knob and Loch Leven Lakes are

all great but are all day hikes.  The Summit restaurant is a nearby grill

and bar with good food.  These hikes are all heavily forested with

volcanic outcroppings and good water sources.  Once again, these would be

snowshoe hikes in the winter. 

        I will conclude with my favorite hike, Tenaya Lake to Yosemite Valley in

Yosemite National Park.  Plan on a 3-4 day summer hike over 25+ miles and

make sure you have the requisite backpacking permits, Half Dome permits

and bear canisters.  Leave a car at Curry Village in the valley and take

the paid shuttle or have somebody drop you off at Tenaya Lake to start.

Day one is a warm-up with a moderate 800’ grade over 3 miles from Tenaya

Lake to Sunrise Lakes, around 9300’.  You will see sapphire-blue Tenaya

Lake with the granite headwall of Tenaya Peak towering above it.  Sunrise

Lakes are several lakes encircled by sparse trees and granite bowls.  Day

two will involve a moderate 900’ grade over 6 miles from Sunrise Lakes,

over Cloud’s Rest(9926’) and down to Sunrise Creek camp.  From Clouds

Rest you will see the entire Yosemite high country with Merced Peak, Grey

Peak and Red Peak dominating the southern skyline.  Looking down and west

you will see the 5000’+ deep Tenaya Canyon and catch glimpses of Yosemite

Valley.  Day 3, wake up very early and leave your pack at camp.  Today

will be a strenuous climb of 1900’ over 2 miles to the summit of Half

Dome, followed by a return to camp or a hike down to the Little Yosemite

Valley backpackers camp.  On top of Half Dome, you will have a panorama

view of all of Yosemite, topped by a 5000’ view into and down Yosemite

Valley.  The valley will look like a collection of miniature green and

grey figurines from this elevation.  Day four involves hiking down the

Merced River Canyon with 3000’ elevation loss over 6 miles from the

Sunrise Creek camp.  You will be rewarded with views of 600’ Nevada Fall

and then 300’ Vernal Fall—Vernal Fall appears as a curtain of whitewater

that plunges to an emerald pool and then sprays water over several

hundred yards, inspiring the name “Mist Trail.”  You will most likely get

soaked by the time you reach the bottom.  Keep in mind these trails can

be crowded and dangerous—also keep in mind this trail from Tenaya Lake to

Yosemite Valley is one of the premier trails in the United States—enjoy!


Phil Steele

Camping Dept.

Store 49, Manteca

Bass Pro Shops

Comments for Going Home

Name: john
Time: Wednesday, January 16, 2013

With these shoes, feet can be protected in the best way, and consequently, maximum comfort can be offered. In fact, it is no doubt true that for equipments of hiking,

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