Notes From Dr. Sam

Notes From Dr. Sam

Good Day,

I hope this note finds you well.

Recently, Annette and I were sitting in a café out west, drinking a nice cold beer and waiting for our meal. The song, Over the Rainbow, sung by Eva Cassidy began playing in the background.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

I had a moment of clarity and it struck me that we were there; she and I had landed on the other end of the rainbow. I began to cry (Taggart men tend to cry easily). At first she didn’t understand and thought I was sad about something. It took a minute for me to regain my composure and let her know that everything was fine and these were tears of joy.

We had just completed a week backpacking in the High Sierras of Yosemite Park in eastern California. Two years ago she put our names into a lottery for spots in a Ranger-guided trip of all of the high camps in the park. Backpacking is not something she and I had ever done so this was a fresh adventure.

We spent our first night at Tuolumne Meadows at 8000 feet of altitude. The next morning we donned our packs and headed out for Sunrise Camp at 9,000 feet. As we climbed it seemed that each corner provided a breathtaking view of some iconic shot we had seen in National Geographic or some famous painting. Being on a Ranger-led hike we had some advantages: we didn’t have to carry our food and a tent with cots awaited us at the end of the day. All of the supplies for the high camps were hauled in by mules three times a week. I’m not sure how good the food was but by the end of the day we were ravenous. The meals tasted great and there were large volumes of food.

The next morning we were out and off on our next adventure to Mercid Camp at 7000 feet. It was on the second day that I began to notice the absence of sound related to the internal combustion engine. On the ten mile hike that day we lost 2000 feet in altitude but in the process we went up and down several mountains getting to our destination.

At Mercid Camp we had a layover day and it gave me my first chance to do some fishing. Three miles above the camp is Washburn Lake, a small lake full of fish. After an easy hike up the lake with no pack on my back I caught fish until I was tired.

On our fourth day we left Mercid and climbed to Vogelsang at 10000 feet. It wasn’t the longest climb of the trip but was far and away the hardest. We were near tree-line and the camp was situated on the edge of a high Alpine meadow; there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, it was cold and the wind was blowing. There was a small lake just above the camp and soon I was out on the bank casting my bait. On my second cast I noticed a shadow on the water and looked up. No more than fifty feet above my head was a large bald eagle in full flight that had joined in the fishing.

The following morning we headed down the mountain, back to Tuolumne Camp, got in our car and headed west. Within a couple of hours we were in stop-and-go San Francisco rush hour traffic; the contrast was amazing.

If you have not had the chance to see them, put the western parks on your list of things to do before you die: Yosemite, The Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier. They will provide you with moments of clarity and might even change your life.

Have a good journey.