Stroking the Cat Tail

(3/25/08) I can't believe we've just had our fourth annual Perfect Pace Sheep Canyon backpack. The event just keeps getting better every year. No wonder its my favorite backpack trip.

Before we started our backpack, we weighed our packs. For a two night backpack, I was a little stunned on how much weight some folks we're carrying. It brought back memories of the gay cruises I've been on where the departures where delayed because of all the excess baggage, over-stuffed with costume changes.

The desert wildflower season was just beginning as we started our hike. Once we reached our campsite, I realized I forgot the cheese out of the cooler. Whoopsy! So being the perfectionist I am, I decided to run back and get it. It actually worked out really well. Our amazing new trip leader, Jeff, offered to lead the afternoon day-hike through Cougar Canyon. Jeremy wanted to get in a training run so he ran back with me on our cheesy mission. We had a great run. It was actually one of my favorite parts of the trip, although it probably looked pretty bizarre to other hikers as we ran past them with cheese in our hands.

That night was one amazing party with lots of fine wine, a Mexican fiesta, non-stop lively conversation, and best of all musical entertainment from Paul and his backpacking guitar. It totally inspired me to get back into the guitar again. Thanks Paul!

The next day we continued our journey with a quick scramble up to the tropical rainforest like falls at South Fork. We then continued on with our packs through Sheep Canyon main. We stopped at a fairy grotto to take a dip in the pool and some of us even dared to be showered under the freezing falls. We still had quite a ways to go, so we continued our trek, bushwhacking through Cat's Claw, scrambling up boulders, and climbing over Nathan's Struggle. The group this year was in great shape. Hardly anyone was tired once we reached our campsite at the bowl. That afternoon we had quesadilla appetizers and sipped on Happy Hour drinks. And of course, the party continued on well into the evening. Many of us slept under the stars. It was awesome.

On our return trek the next morning, we stopped at my favorite sunbathing and swimming rest stop, with its Joshua Tree like rock formations, and a fabulous canyon stream running through it.

And in this serene setting, unlike our unwelcome earlier skin gouging of the cat's claw, the Sheep Canyon trip just wouldn't be complete now without our annual stroking of the cat-tails.