Your eyes follow the lines, and a landscape opens up in your head. The unnamed lakes with their high elevations printed on them, the creeks in canyons so narrow all the contours touch, the glaciers that cling to northeastern cliffs on the highest peaks are flat and dry on the unbeautiful paper, but your imagination runs wild. Then, when you finally see the places that inspired these maps, there is no way to exaggerate how beautiful this hidden land is. The feeling of crossing over mountains and valleys with only your food, maps and shelter — and no guide or path — is the closest thing I’ve felt to flying like a bird. Pure freedom.
I won’t name the places, but I will give a few clues: Enchanted Gorge, 10 days of hiking and an east-west traverse of the Sierra Nevada, completely off trail. And I will say that we once went three days in California without seeing another person, which is an accomplishment. Enjoy.
Everything was silent as we passed between two peaks named after mythic monsters.
(and we look like a party of 1860s surveyors)
We had nearly completed our crossing.