We've run into groups of kids backpacking in the Sierra on a regular basis. Sometimes you can hear them coming from a mile away, as their excited voices ring through the mountains. Once we met a group of young religious hikers who had taken a vow of silence for the day. That made our conversation with them a bit awkward!
On our last trip in the Emigrant Wilderness we met three groups on the trail. The first was from the Overland School, and as we did a bit of research later, we learned that each of those families had paid about $5000 for their child to experience the High Sierra---and climb Mt. Shasta. We heard them first, and they descended from Blackbird Lake into Emigrant Lake. And after a comfortable rest at the ford, they packed up and marched off in the direction of Kennedy Meadows. They were young, bright, full of energy...and they all had pretty cool equipment, too.
But we couldn't help compare them to two other groups we met later on the trip--both groups of 8-10 Boy Scouts. These two later groups had a fishing rod for each kid, and their gear wasn't quite as up-to-date in every case as the Overland kids. But we bet they had every bit as much fun, for a lot less money.
Of course, the scouts had a couple of dads along as the adult supervision. They were volunteers, not paid staff. And they were earning very bit of that salary, and more, God bless them. They looked a bit tired, as they tried to keep up with their charges. But they also looked darned happy. They were having the times of their lives with those kids. And the kids were having an ever better time.
Hopefully, these trips with young adults will lead to more voters who understand how important the wilderness is. And will lead to parents who, in turn, take their kids out into the woods to enjoy what the woods have to offer. We met a few of these, too, heading to destinations a bit closer to the trailhead--some of them with children as young as five or six.
And somewhere in the middle, you might also find a group of young men like the ones we met near Upper Bucks Lake. There were about five of them, and they were fishing. And they were there for a few days of backpacking and hanging out together in the wilderness. The oldest might have been old enough to drink, but most of the others were not. They were pleasant, polite and just a bit serious about fishing.
And it made us smile to think that they will be voting someday soon, and supporting the wilderness that they obviously love.