A Taste of 'Lost Angel Walkabout': The High Sierras

The world has been spinning for about twenty minutes now. It is the top of the fourth day of my horse-pack trip into the High Sierras. After a long day of riding my legs were weak, I stepped over a rill meandering through the grass, sank into the moss and lost my balance. My fall was shortstopped by a jagged branch jutting upward from a slumbering log that lodged in my rib cage. Fired by John Muir’s rapturous account, “My First Summer in the Sierra,” I had never asked myself what would happen to John if he tripped while scrambling up14,000-foot granite peaks, thrilling to animals, plants, and rocks alike? I simply decided I had to experience for myself chattering creeks and celestial light on the mountains.

Now, flat on my back yards away from the Pacific Crest Trail in California's John Muir Wilderness, the reality of my isolation has set in. It is a five-hour horseback ride from our camp in Cascade Valley to the nearest telephone. A hardy backpacker might come this way, or the occasional horse tour company, but they have all settled into their respective camps for the night. Cell phone transmissions don’t travel through the granite walls that John loved so well, and something inside my body is terribly wrong.

Will the Lost Angel survive? Find out in Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler's Tales

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