Journey

When discussing the options for traveling with a three weeks old baby from California to Indiana, friend Bryce reminded me that while today we view traveling as the unavoidable side effect when to get from A to B, there used to be a more conscious form of travel that one can metaphorize as a journey. Thrilled, we decided to take this trip by train. The idea was to spend two nights in a sleeper car, and the days sightseeing.

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The comfort is minimal, but so are the demands of a three week old.

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California becomes Nevada. Notice the difference in architecture and functionality (railway station vs. correctional facility).

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Nevada becomes Utah and Colorado.

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Then, in Iowa, when we start feeling the heat and humidity of summer in the midwest, the power of all passenger cars fail. For hours, the Amtrak personal shuffles the cars in order to put the one with the faulty cable at the end. In vain.

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When we arrive in Chicago 8 hours late in the third night, Amtrak pays for a hotel with view.

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We have arrived! Moral: Each journey should result in a story.

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Yosemite in Winter

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In 1993, when it still rained in California, winter was a desperate time for weekend backpackers, because the Sierras were packed with snow.

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On the other hand, if you dared, you could have places all for yourself that would be packed with humans in the summer. But don’t let this snow free picture of Yosemite Valley betray you.

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A little further on, the vast granite plains were slush covered, and even further, we there was deep snow and no trace of the trails.

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Higher altitude cleared things up a bit (assuming good weather).

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The peace was treacherous. Picking this spot below as a camp site and ignoring the pretty clouds below was a dumb idea. The night became the second stormiest night of my life.

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Steingrund unter den Händen

This continues the series of revisits of my year 1993/94 in California. Very rarely a landscape hits you with such a force that you are left with a lifelong desire to return.

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The climb from Lake Tahoe to Mount Tamrac is through lush forests, and nothing but the weathered trees prepares you for the view from the top.

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In the front is Gilmore lake where we had memorable swim, and further behind follow Susie Lake, and, already in the granite, almost invisibly, Lake Aloha.

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The landscape gradually transitions from impossibly green vegetation to gray and white granite rocks. The latter
are, however, not steep and ragged but smooth and almost plane. No invitation to hell could be sweeter.

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The heroes of this place are the trees. They struggle on without almost no soil, withstand harsh weather, and even when long dead, remain.

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Mount Whitney

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I had the opportunity and was in the physical condition to climb Mount Whitney in the Summer 1994 as a day hike, when no day use permit was required. So these are relatively ancient photos.

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The hike from the parking lot at the Whitney Portal and back took 10 hours. The 2000 meters elevation gain put a lot of stress on the muscles (uphill) and even more stress on the bones (downhill).

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At the same time I had become addicted to classical indian music, and Hariprasad Chaurasia’s rendering of the Raga Kaunsi Kanhra played back in my brain during the first hour of the hike.

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We started at 6am in the morning before sunrise, and the first two hours were pleasant hiking through wooded areas. The first challenge were the infamous 100 switchbacks, which bring you fast to high elevation and to the Mt Whitney Trail Crest.

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From then it is still a long way to reach the summit. In good weather, the hike does not pose any technical difficulties. But it is long, at high elevation, and in an alien landscape.

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