Here are some of our favorite images from the latest WC-001 adventure. Rather than posting hundreds of images of all the great moments and lanscapes we thought we’d save those for the upcoming WC-001 film and leave you with these images as a preview of the adventure. Enjoy!
This 5 day experience in the Eastern Sierra’s brings together the best of what this iconic mountain range has to offer. A chance to harness your inner John Wayne…or John Muir. We’ll be riding horses deep into the heart of the Inyo National Forest with a pack train of mules carrying all the gear needed to have an adventure worth telling stories about. We’ll have the opportunity to take several strenuous hikes to peaks above 12,000′, as well as fishing for golden trout, and swimming in breathtaking alpine lakes. This is a challenging and incredible trip on which you will have a chance to appreciate the vast beauty that makes the Sierras so legendary.
Trip outfitted by: Rock Creek Pack Station, a permittee of the Inyo and Sierra National Forest
DATE: August 15-19, 2013
- $1,500 USD (Includes transportation from Los Angeles or Mammoth Lakes)
- 5 day horseback expedition with pack mules
- Hiking, fishing, swimming
- Gourmet cuisine
- All expenses included
This is a beginner level trip. No prior horseback experience is required. Though the trip will be challenging so you must be physically fit.
CLICK HERE TO APPLY
Left, right. Left, right. I had a method. A pace. Keep my mind on the simple execution of one foot in front of the other, my boot print within the boot print of the guy ahead. But the elevation gain was steep, my pack increasingly burdensome, and my pubescent pudge still stubbornly, mockingly clinged to my 15 year old frame. We were ascending to the top of Mount Baldy, standing at 12,441 feet as the highest peak in the Cimarron Range, a subrange of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico. It was our sixth day of the trek – a right of passage within the boundless lands of Philmont Scout Ranch, a teenage boy’s mecca of high adventure. We had already faced down smaller challenges of hailstorms, twisted ankles, and foreboding bear run-ins, but I was now facing two more formidable foes I never expected to encounter along the trail.
A pair of deeply held questions turned into resounding taunts with each stumble in the dirt, each day’s labored breath: I didn’t have what it takes and I’d never be or do anything deserving of my father’s pride.
A boy’s journey into manhood and his inevitable confrontation with the ghosts of his sonship are nothing unique to the altar of rock and pine, the sanctuary of sage and snow. For centuries boys have gone into the wilderness and emerged as men, standing tall as they returned to their community, tested to their limits and found able. I grew up in this sanctuary, but had somehow not yet made that leap.
My relationship with my dad had always been… hesitant. Restricted. There was simply never much on which we could connect. I was a mama’s boy. Moderate. A “bottler” of emotions. A peacemaker. I was called “sweet” more times than any boy wishes to receive in their formative days. My father on the other hand was smart, type-A, always right. It was his way or the highway and I was all too happy to allow him the steering wheel for the quiet of the backseat. He simply could not understand me, and I was nothing if not intimidated by him. But all of this disconnect gave way at the call of the wild. We both had that deeply rooted within. And I clung to it. I threw myself into scouting, camping every weekend, learning knots, earning badges. My distant father became a dad under a canopy of stars. He told yarns at the campfire, knew his way around a dutch oven recipe, stood confidently amongst the other men at morning coffee. I wanted nothing more than to make that father proud. But I was soft. The one to say, “We shouldn’t do that” when other boys jumped at the chance to risk breaking rules and limbs. I wilted at the thought of communal showers, wasn’t crass like the others or athletic, didn’t push myself and had no one pushing me. I felt outside of something within which I so desperately wanted to belong. It would be a long time before I was able to unkink that knot, but a lot of the same rope began its necessary fraying on that backpacking trip.
Up until the sixth day, I had held my own. There were taller boys, stronger ones. Funnier ones and weirder ones. I found my place as the constant one. I didn’t keep my head down as much as I kept my head up. Where some of the boys had their homesick moments, others had their sloth or temper. I simply marched along, a mask of a smile to hide behind. But physically, I was beginning to reach a wall. My dad had noticed my flagging pace a few times along the day’s trail and had made an effort to check in. This only exacerbated the issues at hand. I had to do this. Had to prove to him and myself that I could be like the others. I could be normal. Boot print in the boot print ahead.
Left, right. Left, right. With each step, my own demons were flying at me like the pine-infused winds whipping the mountainside. Who was I kidding? I couldn’t be one of the guys. I was a poser. A wannabe. Left, right. Left, right. All my lackluster academic or athletic performances whispered derision with the crunch of my footfall. Left, right. Left, right. The unknown weighed on my shoulders. What was I going to do and who was I to become when I grew up? Left, right. Left, right. The incline reached a scathing steepness and I my limit, my breaking point. How would I ever gain my father’s respect? Nothing I ever do is enough, so why even try? “I need to stop! I can’t do it…”
The otherworldly words floated on the air to my ears. They had not come from my mouth. The group slowed. The strongest one of our lot had stopped in front of me, exhausted. He had been tasked with carrying the extra water container (a hefty 20 lbs addition), as our next campsite was dry and we needed to pack in. He took his pack off, slumped over. “I can’t carry the water anymore. I can’t.” The exhaustion had taken him. Him, the toughest. The one whose footsteps I had just been trying to mimic. His bravery hit me like a ton of bricks.
At that moment, he proved himself the stoutest in physicality and character. He had owned up to his shortcoming, embracing honesty in the place of his mask.
He vulnerably asked for help and became the best of us for it. We were all posing, all fronting, trying desperately to do anything to cover up our insecurities.
In that moment, he became a man in my eyes. As the others stood around, sipping on their stores of Gatorade-powder water, I knew what I had to do. “Can somebody please take it for a bit?” he huffed. Silence. None of the other boys spoke up to take their turn. Everyone was at their own end and nobody wanted to admit it. After a moment, my dad reached over to add on the water to his own pack. “I got it.” This time the words were mine, although they felt just as alien as before. “You sure?” my dad inquired. I walked over, took the water and strapped it in. A nod was all the answer I needed to give. We readied and began our climb again, but now I avoided the footprints in front of me. I was different. I wasn’t like the others. Right, left. Right, left. And this was good. This was the point. My purpose. My strengths and weaknesses in concert gave me my identity and way forward, much like the contours of our guide map. Right, left. Right, left. Step by step, I was growing up, ascending more than the mountain.
We reached the peak, all weary and tired, but I could have leapt to pluck the feathers off the hawk soaring overhead. We looked out on the expanse, bathed and warmed in the afterglow of midday. An unconditional grace unveiled itself to me on that summit. I had tapped into some ‘other’ beyond description and grasped a peace only the wild can offer. My dad came up beside me, father and son standing there in the holiness of the peak. I turned to him. “Happy Father’s Day, pop.” The words struck him at the core. He had totally forgotten what day it was. He looked at me, rare tears glistening his eyes. “Yep. I’d say it sure is.” That was all I needed to hear.
That was the sixth day. On the seventh day, we rested; fly fishing in a river valley. And it was good.
Words by: Madison Ainley