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Family Vacations, Summer 1997
The Tenderfoot’s Almanac
In our family, certain hikes are like yardsticks, marks on a doorjamb as the children grow. One of the first, when our daughters were about three and five years old, was the half-mile ramble from my grandmother’s rickety High Sierra cabin along the lake to the general store, with its jars of fluorescent salmon eggs and crayon-colored snow
When that one became old hat, my wife and I led the way on ever longer and more exotic walks. In the opposite direction, away from civilization, is Stair Rock, into which CCC workers chipped steps during the Depression and from which we jumped into bottomless, sapphire water. Next was the hike to The Lookout on a back trail that gains 400 feet of altitude and provides a
When the girls were old enough to carry small backpacks and walk for half a day, we packed lunches and struck out for The Inlet, where the river that filled the lake pooled and warmed on pink feldspar sand.
Some of the sites we discovered we named ourselves in acts of ownership and pure celebration. Others, like Cleopatra’s Bath, are actually on the map. Cleo’s is a kind of graduation hike, a full three miles from the cabin up an indistinct trail. I pulled the map out when the girls were maybe eight and ten years old, and we made the connection between that granite dome over there
When at last we clambered up the final pitch and beheld the glistening pools, it was as if we were the first to discover them, we full-grown trampers in the wilderness.