Just thinking about the hike to Feather Falls makes me very tired, and that makes me want to write only a short list of ways Not to Enjoy a Hike. Because I did not enjoy the hike itself — only the companions. Sad to say, the short list turned into a pretty extensive one.
How Not to Enjoy a Hike
1. Pick a trail that has its descent on the way in, so that even during the first few easy miles, when you are at your freshest, you can be thinking, “What trail goes down, must rise again,” making it possible to imagine the misery you will know later when you have to hike steeply uphill the last four or five miles back to your car. Even a vague dread of the near future can ruin the present pretty effectively.
|Red Ribbons – Clarkia concinna|
2. Do it in July and the weather will be as hot as possible. Don’t bring too much water; you want to get dehydrated.
3. Plan to take your baking-dry and long hike just a couple of days after spending time in high places where you got used to singing rivulets of snowmelt all around you. This will encourage you to compare your lower-elevation hike unfavorably with recent ones, to keep your attitude complainy.
4. Hike on a trail that claims to takes you to a tall waterfall (the 2nd highest in California), so that when you are dripping sweat and collecting dust you can look forward to the cool mist that will revive you.
This way, when you discover that the end of the trail is at an overlook so far from the water you think it’s a mirage, you will have the maximum letdown.
It helps, if while looking at the waterfall with your tongue hanging out, you have to sit down in the dirt to avoid sunburn and the jostling of other hikers.
|Tincture Plant – Collinsia Tinctoria|
5. If there is a choice of a routes, allow only enough time for a long-legged 20-year-old to hike the shorter of the two. This way, when you get to the trailhead and find that the short route is closed, your heart can sink right away.
6. Be sure to have a dinner engagement to be late for, or some other reason to hurry through your lunch and doggedly hike your legs off, with your heart doing double-time, on that last long ascent.
Now, the things that kept me from being a total ingrate:
1. The loss of two pounds in an afternoon (even if it was 80% water).
2. Flowers to take pictures of, many conveniently in the shade of the trees, and few enough so as not to be overwhelming.
3. My dear and faithful companions, who joked with me and gave me water and snacks, and carried the knapsack.
This outing was a sort of add-on to our Sierra Nevada summer vacation. We came home for a night and then drove north to pick up Myriah before going on to our trailhead in the foothills of the northern Sierras, in the Plumas National Forest.
While trudging up those last few miles back to the car we talked about how we’d like to hike more together in the future, say, in April or October. I know that any hike in the foothills would be more pleasant during those months, but I’ll vote for going anywhere but Feather Falls.
|Monkeyflower – Mimulus|