My first memory of the Sierras was a rather long backpacking trip with my parents when I was only 8 years old. At 9,000 feet elevation, at the entrance to the Golden Trout Wilderness, we began the hike on our way to climb Langley Peak, the southern-most mountain in the Sierra that is taller than 14,000 feet. I had no camera. The only images I made were memories: I remember my father composing with his large format camera and carrying it over his shoulder in a leather case the entire way. I remember the trail being hot and dusty, and the nights being cold and dark. I remember the thunderstorms racing across the sky while we summited and the stinging pellets of hail that forced us to seek shelter beneath overhanging slabs of granite. For an 8-year-old, it was all very exciting.
Forty years later, my most recent hike into the Sierras was with a group of friends, all fathers with children from my hometown of Santa Barbara, California. We have been making these six-day trips for about 10 years. Each time, we visit a new location in the Sierras, places like Graveyard Lakes, The Tablelands and others. We spend the days hiking unnamed peaks and high alpine cirques with no trails and the nights telling tales around the campfire. The only schedules we keep are determined by the sun and our stomachs.