PCT Mile 926, retracing 1968

Left Mammoth early. It is remarkably bland and boring, even by ski-town standards, and I am glad to leave it.
The next leg of my trip has historical significance, at least for me. In 1968, my Boy Scout troop hiked the 60-some miles from Reds Meadows to Yosemite Valley over the course of a week. I was 11, and this was my first long-distance hike.
We were in truth a pretty sorry crew, a bunch of 11-15 year olds outfitted with primitive gear, mostly acquired at Army Surplus or at Sears. No stoves (we carried hatchets and saws to build cook fires), cheap plastic tube tents for shelter (fortunately it did not rain) , heavy packs that lacked hip belts and thus cut cruelly into our scrawny shoulders. I weighed about 75 pounds, and my pack was pushing 45.
But it was a great trip and it inspired me to keep backpacking. I didn’t take a camera, and have long been curious to visit this country again.
My first surprise was Devils Postpile. I remember the columns bring 80 or maybe 100 feet tall. They are 30 at best.
But more surprising to me is that there is no feeling of recognition or remembrance as I trace my way past Shadow Lake and then 1000-Island Lake. I recognized them of course, but I have seen many pictures of them over the years, as they are among the most photographed locations in the Sierra. There was just no feeling that I had been here before, no memories that were awakened by my return.
It’s been 48 years. I think that the 11-year old boy who was here before is now gone and vanished. Every atom of my being has been replaced in this time, and I’ve lost all sense of connection.
Which is probably a good thing. That boy was in truth not very likable, someone who had few friends and felt pretty alienated from society in general. I’ve spent my adult life trying not to be that boy, and maybe I have succeeded to some extent. Sometimes not remembering is the only way to make things better.
But other things are worth remembering. Our Scoutmaster, Mr Bradley, was a retired Marine DI who knew a thing or two about young men and what awful creatures they can be. He held us to high standards, he cussed us (without actually swearing) up and down those mountains when we wanted to give up, he pushed us to be better. He was mean and tough but he cared.
I contacted his son , Brent Bradley, my friend through Jr and Sr high school, and got a picture of Mr Bradley. I’ve been carrying it with me since the start of this hike. Tomorrow, when I get to Donohue Pass, the high point of our hike in 1968, I’m going to build a little shrine and leave the picture there. I think he would appreciate that.

Mile 923, 1000 Island Lake