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Hiking roots

One of the great benefits to doing the kind of trail work that I've been doing in Desolation Wilderness is the great conversations I've had with other hikers, so of whom have histories that go back generations in the area.

I've met the grand-daughter of one of the original cabin owners at Wright's Lake, who was quick to point out that the lakes in the mountains above were all named for her relatives---and that Maude always spelled her name with an 'e' despite what the Forest Service says.

And then her neighbor came by to share stories about the sourdough starter that traces its roots back more than seventy years, and how the local cabin owners have managed to keep it alive.

On this last trip I met man who told me the story of his best friend's grandfather, a Mr. Chappell, who insisting on staying at Wright's Lake all winter, strapping on snowshoes to regularly check on all the other cabins when he was well into his eighties. It was more poignant to hear the story within sight of Chappell's Crossing bridge.

And there was the young woman from Seattle who is keeping her family tradition alive, and spending time up at the cabin, knowing full well that it will soon fall upon her to maintain the property. And she gladly accepts that, even from distant Seattle.

But there are new stories, as well. One large group of a few adults and lots of kids got my attention. I suggested that they split up to avoid falling foul of the regulations, which limit groups to twelve or smaller. They had no problem with that, and quickly set off on two separate trails. But I noted that the kids were not fluent in English, and I asked where they were from.

"Sacramento," one of the adults answered. "But before that, Afghanistan. We thought they deserved a day up here, after all they've been through."

There wasn't a hiker on the trail who begrudged them the obvious joy they felt.

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