-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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.