What I Carry on Day Hikes
Memorial Day weekend didn’t turn out like I expected. Originally, our friend Dee was going to come visit us at the ranch, but she decided to stay home because she wasn’t feeling well. I was sad that Dee couldn’t make it but happy she took care of herself. Self-care has to come first.
I decided to visit my mom. She’d been feeling lonely, so the visit was great timing. We had wonderful talks, and on Saturday we drove to Lassen Volcanic National Park, which is about an hour from my mom’s home.
Before we left Red Bluff, I packed extra water, snacks, and other necessities for our day trip. I try to be prepared just in case something bad happens.
When I'm out hiking, I carry the following items in my daypack:
water bottle and MSR® Dromedary bag
long-sleeved merino wool shirt
journal and pens
small Joby tripod
first aid kit
I use a lightweight, frameless, black backpack called the REI Flash 18 Pack. The bag is 16 x 9.5 x 8 inches, and it has one main compartment. The bag weighs less than 12 ounces, and it’s perfect for day hikes near my home. Plus, it has an internal sleeve for a Dromedary bag.
What I Wear
It doesn’t rain here often in the summer, and I usually wear a lightweight cotton dress with a t-shirt and vest and cotton tights on outdoor adventures. Recently, I bought new socks and a pair of Brooks Cascadia 10 Trail Running shoes for longer hikes.
As a side note, cotton isn’t the best fabric for outdoor recreation, so I’m going to add a few pieces of clothing to my wardrobe for outdoor adventures. If you have any recommendations, please let me know.
I’m a big fan layering my clothes. For example, when my mom and I left Red Bluff for Mount Lassen last weekend, it was 70 degrees F. Dark clouds cloaked Mount Lassen, and the further we drove, the cooler it got. By the time we got to the park, it was raining lightly and near the summit the temperature dropped to 45 degrees F! I'm glad I brought my long-sleeved merino wool shirt, tights, vest, and poncho because I needed them to stay warm!
I saw so many beautiful sites last weekend. We stopped to take photos at Battle Creek Vista Point along Highway 36, along with a variety of other pullouts on the road. We drove through Mineral, CA—a tiny town near Mount Lassen—with the windows down and the heat blasting on our feet. And, there was so much to see at the park!
We went on a small hike toward Mill Creek Falls but turned around because we were hungry. I brought some snacks in my pack, but we needed “real” food. The hike was only a few miles, but sometimes it is best to follow your instincts. Also, my mom was having a hard time with the elevation. She was walking very slowly and had trouble catching her breath, so turning around was the best option. We also wanted to drive to the Lassen Peak Trailhead.
On the way to the peak, we drove past Emerald Lake and Lake Helen, both of which were covered in snow and ice. We were thinking about hiking around those lakes, but it wasn’t an option. Snow was everywhere, even though the roads were clear.
At the summit, my mom said, “Tam, let’s drive through the whole park! You can get a sense of the layout and what it has to offer.”
I felt a little hesitant about driving through the whole park but decided to embrace adventure and go for it. On the way down the mountain, we stopped to take photos and savor short walks. One of my favorite places was Summit Lake. It’s a gorgeous little lake with plenty of camping spots and trails that head toward Echo Lake, Upper and Lower Twin Lakes, and Rainbow Lake.
On the drive, my mom and I talked about my step-dad, Mahlon, and how much we missed him. When I was a kid, my mom, Mahlon, and I would drive to Lassen occasionally and go hiking and exploring together. We even hiked Lassen Peak together. I have a sweet photo of my parents sitting beside the trail. They look so young and cute!
I try to pack lightly for day hikes, but I carry more than stuff. I carry memories, too. Some of those memories are heavy and some are light.
When I’m outside looking at mountains, flowers, snow, and expansive landscapes, my lighter memories surface. I remember the times I spent with Mahlon and the adventures we had together as a family while hiking, skiing, and camping, along with the peaceful in-between times, too. I miss Mahlon, however I strive to honor his memory by practicing gratitude, living adventurously, and making the choice to show up and to live in the moment. Living in the moment is where I find joy.