My first time leading a backcountry backpacking trip was a great success! We chose to hike around the Cottonwood Lakes over in the Golden Trout Wilderness of the Eastern Sierras because it’s dog friendly.
What I love the most about hiking in the backcountry is that you can pitch a tent anywhere at any time (as long as you have a permit for the area). There are many tasks to do around camp before the sun goes down - setting up camp, organizing gear, washing dishes, making sure the bear container is secure, etc. And once the sun goes down, it gets too cold (and a little scary) to hang outside, so it’s always an early night with some reading. Experiences like this remind me how simple life can be. Away from screens and phones, and noise. Where there is nothing to do but appreciate your surroundings and the people you’re with.
We camped at John Muir Lake, not far from the crowded Cottonwood Lakes, which we had nearly all to ourselves. We spotted lights from two other campsites around the entire lake. And I have to say, it was a much more beautiful place to pitch a tent for the night. The days were spent hiking in and out and exploring the high alpine Cottonwood Lakes, around 11,000 feet.
Can’t wait to do more of this once the winter passes!