My close friend and camping compadre, Joseph, along with our friend Adam and I had our eyes set on backpacking to Sykes. We left San Francisco Friday afternoon, hoping to make it to the trailhead sometime between “no rain and rain” o’clock.
We parked the car, gathered our last minute gear, and dressed for the cold, rainy night hike ahead. After a quick 4 miles/1.5 hours on the trail, we arrived at our campsite for the night. We pitched our tents just before the heavy downpour, in time for us to fall asleep to the often inconsistent sound of rain hitting our rain flys.
Waking up, I opened my side of the tent to a gorgeous view of the wilderness on the ridge across from us. I believe my exact words were, “Wow! Hahaha.”
The first morning was very cold. We quickly ate our dry breakfast meals (FYI, the Backpacker’s Pantry’s ”Granola with Bananas & Milk” is my favorite!) and took off to cover the rest of the 6 miles to Sykes.
The morning trek exposed to us what the Ventana Wilderness had to offer since we didn’t see this the night before as we hiked in the dark. It was breathtaking. It’s hard trying to take in the scenery while not tripping on random rocks/roots on the trial.
Our fast pace allowed us to reach Sykes at a reasonable hour, scoping out the hot springs as well as deciding on which campsite to call home.
First priority of business, to set up camp. Second, jump in the hot springs. Simple as that. And this is one of the main reasons I love these UnplugYou weekends—a day’s itinerary can be as simple as; hike, set up camp, soak in hot spring, gather around a campfire, go to bed.
I love this.
On a related note, you find yourself conversing with others on things that have been forgotten oh-so-long ago. Topics and conversations we don’t really think about these days.
The three of us chatted about our childhood, adolescents, and our formative years. We also brought up old TV shows, bands we’d listen to as teens, art school, college flings, movies that changed our lives, the trouble we got into (but didn’t get caught), and other miscellaneous conversations. We talked late into the night, staring at very hot coals in a campfire we built ourselves from found wood around the river.
Sunday morning, we woke up to the freezing cold. Holy shit, it was cold! We made another campfire and fueled our bodies for the 10 mile hike back to civilization. We covered the trek back in 3 hours and 40 minutes. Pretty fast in my opinion.
The three of us arrived at the car exhausted, sore, and hungry. After a meal at Fernwood, we headed back to reality.
As we were driving back, Joseph put on some Old Time/Folk music. The stories expressed in these songs spoke of a more simpler time. The people writing and performing these songs found joy in the small things, in “shooting the shit” conversations, in just being there in the moment with someone they loved.
The three of us spent two days with nothing to do but hike, camp, soak in a hot spring, collect wood, sit around a campfire, and talk. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. Simple. Having this music on as we drove back to the city was a nice way to bring this weekend to a full circle.