It’s a travesty when the only blow-your-face-off visual experience most folks witness these days is from the lounging end of their TV room, particularly given our physical proximity to many others’ life-list destinations. Geographically speaking, the West (and California) is an embarrassment of riches. In an afternoon, you can drive to the trailhead that accesses the highest point in the continental U.S., from which you can also see the lowest point just a few dozen linear miles away. In a long weekend, you can enjoy either of two of the most popular parks in our national system: Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. If you are completely out of ideas, you could quite literally blindfold yourself, throw a dart at the Sierras, and know that you would be guaranteed an epic trip if your destination matched the newfound hole in your map.
But if you’re just showing up on the front porch, you’re selling yourself short. The Big Ditch is a prime example: of the approximately five million visitors who make the pilgrimage, only 40,000 request overnight permits (the significant bulk of whom were during the summer season). I’m no math major, but that’s less than one percent. Talk to someone who has avoided the heat of the day by submerging their head in the Colorado, fallen asleep on its shore, and awakened to look up at the rim that’s 5,000 vertical feet away; then you’ll begin to appreciate the transcendent power of the park. They’ll tell you that going to the South Rim, looking in, and saying you have been to the Grand Canyon is little different than saying you’ve been to Chicago because you marinated in O’Hare’s D Terminal for an afternoon layover.
The rub, of course, is getting there. Many have the misconstrued preconception that enjoying the backcountry requires copious amounts of expensive gear, an inordinate amount of training, and/or enough bravery to stare down the myriad clawed denizens of the wilderness. Truth be told, there are only two requirements to come on most of the trips: having a good attitude and a reasonable level of fitness. Otherwise, we’ll do everything we can to cover you. Whether it’s gear, transportation, financial needs, or just figuring out how to pack your pack, we’ll do our best to make it happen. If there’s a trip you want to go on that’s not scheduled, just ask. We’ll be there before you know it.
So let’s get out there. Live vicariously through yourself. No high-definition unit can compete with the alpenglow of the Eastern Sierras, fitting your boot inside of a grizzly’s print on a riverbank, or navigating through your campground by starlight. Come outside and play.
- WMR Jr