Memories from the mountain trails
Aug. 24, 2001
Several area hikers traveled to Yosemite National Park in July to enjoy hiking the high trails there. A first time backpacker who went along was Beth Jeffares.
The group got a late start and faced tricky climbing in the dark before many of them reached the camping area at the top of the mountain. Blisters, sore feet and fatigue plagued those new to carrying 30 pound back packs up steep mountain trails. Beth's husband, Bob, waited for his petite wife on the trail and "pushed me to continue." The assumption is that Bob's pushing was both metaphoric and literal. "We've got to make it to the top," Beth remembers telling herself.
Last week in this space we reviewed some of Gloria Leake's experiences on that trip. Gloria's sister-in-law became very ill on the trail and the two spent two hours alone until well after dark. Gloria's husband, Raymon, along with Father Elvin Sunds, Regina's son Jonathan, Latham Farley and Dave Hicks, hiked far down to the stranded pair, carried their packs and escorted them up to camp.
After Beth and her family reached camp they tended to blisters, which they had treated with mole skin, duct tape and other remedies They pitched a tent and hung their food in a tree to discourage bears from stealing it. "Then I saw more stars than I had ever seen," remarked the lady.
She awoke early the next morning, opened the tent and for the first time could see the beauty of her surroundings. "I woke up Bob and we walked to the river. It was one of the prettiest places I have ever been. The huge rocks were so smooth."
Having to purify drinking water on the trail was a new experience for Beth, but it was the soreness and blisters and getting a little dirty that were her main grievances. She wrapped up foot blisters and kept going. "You were sore, but when you walked more the soreness subsided," she remembers.
You meet the best people backpacking," noted Beth. A Utah couple had left their money in their tent at base camp and Beth lent them $15 so they could ride the Park bus. They promised to repay the loan at a certain place and time. Beth wondered if perhaps she had been taken. But the couple showed up on time and repaid the debt.
Husband Bob and sons Bo and Christopher "were all encouraging to me," said Beth Jeffares with obvious appreciation for the help they provided in keeping her going. She now speaks of magnificent scenery and breathtaking waterfalls and remarks, "I would love to go back next year."
Bob recalls his high points of the hike. "I heard something coming up a hill. A doe stuck her head out and then emerged, nursing a fawn at her side." Another time he was taking a bath in a stream and a bear with 2 cubs approached and crossed the stream.
Dave Hicks, a junior at Lamar High School in Meridian, was on his second serious backpacking trip. He had walked some 40 miles of the Appalachian Trail with Raymon Leake earlier. He remembers the satisfaction of "the rescue mission" he participated in when Regina Allen and Gloria Leake were stranded in the dark on the trail. "It was so cool that night and the stars were beautiful," he said.
Dave, who likes kayaking, cross country track, soccer and mountain biking also notes the episode with a visiting bear as a high adventure. The young man plays guitar and is a member of the First Baptist Church Praise Band.
He likes backpacking because "You have everything on your back and you have quiet time away from the normal busyness of life." He enjoyed pulling himself up onto the Half Dome with the assistance of cables. He did not enjoy getting only 2 hours sleep while spending the rest of one night killing ants in his sleeping bag one at a time.
From this group of summer adventurers, I have found not a single dropout from the sport of backpacking.