CT Grandmother and Granddaughter Take a Sierra Club Excursion

Barb Russo

As I bent over my hiking poles yet again, working to get my labored breathing under control and shifting the weight of my 35-pound pack, I wondered, “Why in the world had I done this?”  At age 64 I was participating in my first-ever backpacking trip.

Of course, the reasons had sounded so noble when I sent in my deposit: my bucket list, the beauty of the mountains and most of all a bonding experience with my 9-year old granddaughter. But now at 7800 feet at the top of the Castle Rock Pass in the Tahoe National Forest, I wondered at the wisdom of that decision.

Carolyn and I, along with the other eight adults/grandparents and seven grandchildren, were participating in the first ever “Backpack and Base Camp for Grandparents and Grandkids” excursion run by Sierra Club. This five day outing encompassed a one night stay at Clair Tappaan Lodge in Norden, CA followed by a 4.5-mile hike to Sierra Club’s Peter Grubb Hut, traversing parts of the Pacific Crest Trail. After three nights at the Hut, we hiked back out to Clair Tappaan for one last night.

I can’t say enough good things about this experience. I can sit here and talk about how it stretched me beyond what I had originally thought of as my breaking point, etc., but it really wasn’t about me. It was about sharing my love of the outdoors with my granddaughter, about sharing the tough parts of backpacking and the trail (she was carrying about 10-15 pounds herself), about sharing the extraordinary beauty of the large meadow carpeted with newly-bloomed wildflowers that opened up as we descended from the pass, about sharing a splash in the stream that also served as our water source and swimming in pristine Sand Ridge Lake.

In all, we hiked about 30 miles over 5 days (only the hike into and out from the hut were with full backpacking gear). The volunteer leader Angela, co-leader Aurora and assistant leader Denise prepared the meals, but everyone helped with cleanup and other chores. This trip was seamless, owing to the three leaders’ expertise, commitment and extraordinary love for what they do. They, and the wonderful kids and like-minded adults, made this an unforgettable experience for Carolyn and me.

And on the plane trip home, Carolyn read my copy of the Sierra magazine. A member of the next generation of Sierra Club?

Barb Russo is a CT Chapter Sierra Club member who lives in Guilford and loves the outdoors.

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Sand Ridge Lake off an intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail

Photo Credit: Barb Russo