Highlights of Peace Corps Administrative Hold

-August 1st, arrived back in America

-September 12th, received word of our impending discharge

-October 1st, discharged from Peace Corps, thus ending administrative hold

These are the highlights from two months in administrative hold and the corresponding adventures. Photo credits to Emerson Sosa, Ben Crawley, Aly Meisterling, Amanda Zetah, and Allayna DeHond.

Ben and I prepping and packing for the JMT
Ben and I prepping and packing for the JMT

In the parking lot of the John Muir Trailhead in Tuolumne Meadows.  Ben and I are both prepping our food, clothing and camping materials, making sure that we have everything that we need, and of just as much importance, making sure we don’t have too much.  To help acclimate ourselves for the two week hike ahead of us, we climbed Lembert Dome in the background of the photo.

Group Photo on the JMT
Group Photo on the JMT

This was the only group photo the seven of us took while on the John Muir Trail. On the shores of Thousand Island Lake at 10,250 feet, with Banner Peak and Mount Ritter in the background.  We had hiked a total of twenty miles from our start at Tuolumne Meadows the morning prior. Left to right; Ben, Matt, Amanda, Clarice, George, Dawson, and Stephanie.

The Citadel
The Citadel

The Citadel, an 11,000 ft rock face in Le Conte Canyon, northern end of Kings Canyon National Park.  The sun had disappeared behind the steep canyon walls, casting a dramatic glow on the spectacular mountains. I thought Le Conte Canyon rivaled Yosemite Valley in sheer beauty and size, and was unbelievably better considering there were not hoards of tourists.  In a valley no larger than Yosemite, we (Ben, Amanda and I) were 3 of maybe 100 people in the entire valley.

Le Conte Canyon from Dusy Basin
Le Conte Canyon from Dusy Basin

The western edge of Le Conte Canyon as viewed from Dusy Basin.  Ben, Amanda and I had made the decision to exit the John Muir Trail, knowing that we did not have the time or supplies to finish safely. We hiked out of Le Conte Canyon to Bishop by way of Dusy Basin and Bishop Pass. In this photo the morning sun casts low angle shadows on the rock formations dwarfing the canyon, out of sight three thousand feet below us.

Dusy Basin Sunset
Dusy Basin Sunset

Our last night camping was on top of Dusy Basin, at roughly 11,500 ft.  In this photo the sun is setting over Agassiz Peak at nearly 14,000 ft on the left side.  It was a beautiful and relaxing way to end our time on the John Muir Trail.

Amanda and Ben ascending Bishop Pass
Amanda and Ben ascending Bishop Pass

Amanda and Ben approaching the crest of Bishop Pass on our way out of Kings Canyon National Park.  In this photo they were no more than 100 ft below the eventual crest of the pass, which afforded unreal views west towards Le Conte Canyon, and eastward towards Owens Valley, nearly 8,000 ft below us.

Top of Bishop Pass
Top of Bishop Pass

Sign marking the crest of Bishop Pass, 11,972 ft.  Although not technically on the John Muir Trail, it was the high point for all us, as well as the ending, as we hiked down to South Lake and hitch-hiked our way into Bishop.

Caitlin's boat
Caitlin’s boat

Our two day stay at Caitlin’s Lake house was a highlight for a lot of people on the Peace Corps Road Trip.  We took her family’s boat out for a spin, and when it failed to start we drifted several hundred feet into the lake.  After spending some time weighing our options, we did the Peace Corps thing and pushed the boat back to shore.

Vancouver, BC, Canada
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia.  Several of the road trippers, taking advantage of how close we were to the Canadian border, decided to take a two-day trip into Vancouver. I spent the extra time in Seattle, having forgotten to bring my passport from Sacramento.  Nonetheless, the Vancouver part of the trip was a big highlight for people, having the chance to visit the international border, Stanley Park, a few Canadian beaches, and even hike to a cliff jumping swimming hole.

Group photo in Spokane with Caleb
Group photo in Spokane with Caleb

On our way east towards Glacier National Park, we stopped in Spokane, Washington.  We visited Caleb Morgan, who had moved back to his hometown and was working as a concert promoter for the Gorge Amphitheater.  Taking panoramic group photos was going to be a pretty consistent theme for us…

Heaven's Peak GNP
Heaven’s Peak GNP

Group photo on our way up “Going to the Sun Road” in Glacier National Park.  Heaven’s Peak, one of the most recognizable in the park is directly behind us, and Emerson is bundled up having spent a very cold night sleeping in the van with little proper clothing as temperatures dipped to freezing.

Group Picture at Hidden Lake, Glacier National Park
Group Picture at Hidden Lake, Glacier National Park

Another group photo, this one from a lookout above Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park.  We stopped at the visitor center at Logan Pass, 6,600 ft.  Hidden Lake hike is one of the marquee hikes in the park, giving those that hike amazing scoping views of the park in all directions. Left to right, Emerson, Dawson, Becca, Amanda, Aly, Colby, Brian, Ben, and George.

Mary Kerr
Mary Kerr

After Glacier National Park, our next stop was Yellowstone.  Mary Kerr, in the center of the photo, was our personal guide for the park.  She had just recently accepted a job offer to work at the Old Faithful Lodge, and was more than happy to show us around the park for a day.  Also pictured, Amanda and Emerson.

Panorama at Grand Prismatic
Panorama at Grand Prismatic

A panorama taken at Grand Prismatic Hot Spring in Yellowstone.  Emerson was our panorama taker etraordinaire, perfecting a technique of starting a photo and handing over the camera for someone else to complete. In doing so, we took many scoping panoramas where we were all able to feature in a single photo. Pictured here, Emerson, Becca, Amanda, Dawson.

Grand Prismatic
Grand Prismatic

Exotic colors created by Grand Prismatic. Water trickles down a thin stream towards the Yellowstone River, with colors created by microscopic bacteria that lives and thrives in the nearly boiling temperatures of the Hot Spring water. These bacteria are known as Thermophiles, one of the very few things that can thrive in such an environment.

Group Photo, Yellowstone Canyon
Group Photo, Yellowstone Canyon

Another scoping panorama taken by Emerson, this one above the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on a foggy morning.  In accord with Emerson’s expert panorama skills, Brian developed and perfected the idea of appearing twice in a single photo, showing up on one end of the photo, and running behind the camera to place himself in another position as the camera scrolled from one side to the other.  As such, he appears twice in this photo with two wonderful poses. Left to right, Brian1, Ben, Aly, Becca, Amanda, Colby, Dawson, George, Emerson, and Brian2.

Bison on Road
Bison on Road

This moment completed our Yellowstone experience, as we drove up to a massive Bison grazing on the side of the road. We managed to park right behind the white car pictured, and the Bison wandered to within ten feet of the car.  He was an absolute behemoth, and I was glad to see he was so docile.

Group Photo, Mt. Rushmore
Group Photo, Mt. Rushmore

Yet another group panorama, in which I unashamedly stole Brian’s genius technique. Here we pose in front of Mt. Rushmore during a snowstorm on September 11. Still technically summer for those of you counting days. Left to right, Dawson1, Brian, Ben, Aly, Amanda, George, Emerson, and Dawson2.

Group Photo in Denver
Group Photo in Denver

One of the few group photos we took with the van. We were saying goodbye to Becca (this photo is taken outside of her Capitol Hill apartment), and had just picked up Allayna and Mason who would join us to Chicago. Left to right, Ben, Emerson, Becca, Colby, George, Brian, Dawson, Aly, Allayna, and Mason.

Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak

This photo was taken during a brief jaunt into the Garden of the Gods, a spectacular Sandstone formation just north of Colorado Springs, Colorado.  In the distance is Pikes Peak. This photo does not do justice to the imposing presence of the mountain, which dominates the landscape for a large surrounding area.

Peace Corps Slip n' Slide
Peace Corps Slip n’ Slide

Another example of Peace Corps ingenuity. On a nice warn day in Rockford, Illinois we had the idea of creating a slip-n-slide.  One thirty ft tarp, bath soap, a running hose and a slight decline were all we needed to make it work for hours of fun.

Gateway Arch, St. Louis
Gateway Arch, St. Louis

Gateway Arch National Monument in St. Louis, Missouri.  We chose to take a different route once we had turned around and headed back west from Chicago. Instead of passing through Nebraska and Iowa as we had on the way out, we passed through Missouri and Kansas. In doing so, we visited St. Louis and Kansas City on our way back through Denver, and eventually all the way back to California.

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2 thoughts on “Highlights of Peace Corps Administrative Hold

  1. Hey there, Dawson
    So does this mean the end of your blogs? I would seem so and I will certainly miss reading your very interesting writing. I’m sure that all of you who had anticipated serving your time in Sierra Leone are disappointed that your journey ended so quickly. Interesting how life takes some unexpected turns, but nevertheless you’ve gained much in your life experience.
    Best to all of you & especially you, Dawson
    Kindest regards,
    Dolores

    1. Hi Dolores,

      Definitely not! I will certainly continue to write, and there will be exciting things to come. I’m very glad you have enjoyed my blog, I’ve loved all of your feedback. Although my service with the Peace Corps was cut short I have reapplied and will probably be back in service by June of next year. In the meantime I will continue to work, travel, and keep the stories coming!

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