The one with the road trip

“Coming from the mountains and the next day standing in front of Caesar’s palace was crazy”

Our teeny tiny car that just fit the five us including our packs

We struggled for a while to rent a car but finally hit the road and set the course to Las Vegas. Coming from the mountains and the next day standing in front of Caesar’s palace was crazy. I almost felt anxious and overwhelmed by all the sound, lights, and people. It was such a mad place. We won 17 dollars in a casino, shared a cigar, and walked the streets of Vegas in our trail runners.

Las Vegas

We slept next to a lake and swam in it after we woke up the next morning. After a long day of driving, we made a campfire at night and grilled marshmallows and sausages for dinner. The next day we hiked down into Grand Canyon and jumped into the Colorado River. We were completely alone and it was so, so beautiful. The sun went down over the red mountains before we finally decided to leave the paradise. Hiking back up in the dark with no headlamps was hard but so worth it.

The river in Grand Canyon

We did another hike in Zion national park where we went up Angels Landing. It had been raining the whole day but just as we started walking the weather cleared up. The view was spectacular. We washed ourselves in a river afterwards and slept all together under the stars.

On top of Angels Landing

Even though the road trip was so much fun, we were all a bit antsy and wanting to get back on trail. We checked the weather forecast every day and went through our gear. I bought a new backpack in REI and new trekking poles made of aluminum so they wouldn’t snap. It was a bit hard after spending every day in nature hiking, transcending into sitting in a car for hours just eating junk food.

Zion national park

Our last full day we went down into Death Valley. It was incredibly hot but so beautiful. We collected salt from the flats that we intend to eat on top of Mount Whitney. If we manage to summit the peak it means we’ve been in Americas lowest and highest point – all in the same week. Which would be very fucking cool.

Death Valley

We cowboy-camped on the sand in the desert. It was still so warm that we just slept with our liners on top of the tyvek sheets. The night sky was amazing and we saw so many shooting stars. In the morning me and Guardian woke up before the rest and lit the candles on an apple pie we had brought. We woke Golden up with the sunrise and our morning voices singing Happy birthday. He turned 29 years that day. But we agreed that the real birthday was not happening in a car doing errands but on top of Forrester Pass once we got there.

Golden turning 29 years!

After returning the car, we hitched back to Lone Pine and finished off the last errands. Snooze also met up with us and became the sixth member of the Fellowship. It was so nice to see her again. We got a ride up the mountain to the trailhead and decided to camp there for the night. A thunderstorm rolled in, so we escaped to the pit toilets where we rolled out our tyvek sheets. The sky held a lightning show for us and the rain was pouring down around us. We ate cheese and bagels and chips and drank beers that we had packed out and celebrated that we were finally back on trail. It felt like we were the only people in the world.

Back to the trailhead

We slept inside the toilets with our heads sticking out the door. I awoke to the sunrise and with no sign of the storm from last night. Even though the road trip had been amazing I knew that the trail was the place I belonged to.

The beloved pit toilet

Night’s cowboy camping: 46

◦ Clif bars devoured: 145

◦ Blisters: 0

◦ Beers: 97

◦ Zero days: 17

Miles –

Three things I’m grateful for:

My smelly, annoying group of people.

Two burgers for the prize of one at McDonald’s.

Swimming in the Colorado River.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 1

  • Jeff Greene : Jul 2nd

    Not to be THAT guy, but technically Whitney is the highest point in the lower or contiguous 48 states, because Mt Denali/McKinley in Alaska is the actual highest in the 50 states. But I love your story and am incredibly impressed with how you’ve managed any of the Sierra. I camp and hike regularly along the PCT and JMT, and I wasn’t sure anyone was going to get through any of it this year!


What Do You Think?