Tim Kessler

FRESNO, CA – Near the beginning of the school year I took a week off to go on a backpacking trip in an unforgiving stretch of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The journey was tough but it sure was worth it.

The first day I hiked 6 miles and stayed at Franklin Lake, which is known for its extremely clear waters that are packed full of trout. I stayed the night and got going early the next morning, before the sun passed over the peak.

The second day was the hardest for me. I had to hike 3 miles of switchbacks and 2,600ft up to the top of Franklin Pass which sits at 11,000ft, but the view was spectacular.

I took a break and started to head down to where I was camping which was roughly 7 miles ahead. When I arrived  I jumped into the lake where I was camping to cool off, the water was extremely cold.

One thing I noticed while I was hiking was that all the bodies of water were extremely clean. All of the basins in that stretch of mountains were filled with water that came from melted snow.

Almost everyday I stopped to fish these lakes that were filled with trout, because of the shortage of food, all the trout were stunted and only grew to about 7 or 8 inches.

The next few days were roughly the same, hiking up to saddles between peaks and down valleys. The terrain was different for every stretch, huge pieces of shale and granite reflected the sunlight making it feel like i was walking through a furnace.

I hiked a total of 6 days, every day I got to see something new.  It’s hard to describe, even if you’re looking at pictures, but just being alone out in the mountains changes you for the rest of your life.

On the last day I hiked up to Sawtooth Pass, which rests around 13,000 ft. It took me 6 hours to breach the pass and another half hour to catch my breath.

The view was insane; I could see for miles and the sky was the bluest I’ve ever seen it.

I could see a bunch of different mountains and I could even see my car 4 miles downhill, reflecting brightly into my eyes.

It took me around 3 hours to head back down to the car, when I finally got there I had a feeling of both relief and sadness.  I was happy that I no longer had to beat my legs unconscious, but at the same time I already missed being in the trail.

Overall I had a wonderful experience and I would definitely go again if I had the opportunity. It truly was a wonderful experience and it has changed my life forever.