Father-Son Backpack

April 22-24, 2005


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Douglas has really missed YMCA Y Guides.  Or rather, he has really missed the camping we used to do with Y Guides.  So do I.  And I really really enjoyed backpacking last September in the Sierras.

So sometime in early spring, I approached Chuck Fabijanic, the organizer of last year's Badwater to Whitney Bike n Hike, about doing a "first backpack" with our 4th graders, Doug and PJ.  He enthusiastically agreed, and we set about making a plan.

The Laguna Mountains are just east of the Cuyamaca Mountains. Far enough east, in fact, to have been untouched by the October 2003 wildfires that ravaged so much of Cuyamaca State Park.   When Chuck and I went looking for hikes in San Diego County long enough to be backpacks, untouched by the fires but not in the desert, it was the Pacific Crest Trail (or PCT) through the Cleveland National Forest and the Laguna Mountains that came up.

Taking the PCT north to south is like driving Route 66 west to east: it's almost a crime against nature.  People hike from Mexico to Canada.  The trail starts in San Diego County, not ends.  Eventually, however, Chuck convinced me that losing 2800 ft instead of gaining it would make for a more enjoyable experience for the boys.  That, and it would be more fun meeting PCT hikers heading to Canada face to face than have them blow by you from behind.

So the route was decided upon, and the weekend at the end of the boys' spring break was chosen as the date.  The plan was two drivers and two cars, and to hike point to point with a car left at either end.  We had some vague idea about water and campsites along the route.  I went to the (remarkably close) forest service office to buy maps, Adventure Passes, and file a route plan.  And the local economy received a boost when the two fathers outfitted they boys with packs and gear.

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Text and pictures copyright 2005 by Keith Sherwood.  All rights, writes, and rites reserved.