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Slightly more than halfway through another summer of working in California, my dad made plans to come out and visit. Last summer, he and my brother flew out and we all went to Yosemite for the weekend. This time, just my dad and I drove east instead of south and we ended up in Stanislaus National Forrest - a vast reserve north of Fresno.

Stanislaus has houses, restaurants, and gas stations in it - far more than you'll find in any national park - yet it has a percentage of the crowds. We stopped by the ranger station on the way in to buy a map and then drove up to Big Meadow campground. The campground had a paved road, latrines, and a retired manager with a cataract in one eye who was just as friendly as my father. The two spent half an hour giving sage advice to my 22-year-old self, most of which I think I am well on my way to accomplishing. The campsite had a large rock cliff sequence in the back with nothing but wilderness until the next mountain ridge five miles away.

After my dad scrupulously discovered the best unclaimed campsite, we drove up to Latke Alpine to take a short walk around the clear blue alpine water. That night, I began reading Gravity's Hammer, which I admit to still not having read past page 23.

After consuming a few granola bars the next morning, we drove up into the mountains, past Mosquito Lake, and over a very windy, often one-lane road, to where the Pacific Crest Trail crossed Ebbetts Pass. From there we took a 9 mile day hike to Noble Lake. The sun was very intense and Noble Lake was little more than an medium-sized body of stagnant water, but we met a few people along the way. Two through-hikers passed by and a posse of old ladies joined us for lunch, aiming to complete the same hike as us. That evening my dad moved our camp to a "better" site and I taught him how to throw a Frisbee with his forehand.

Day three consisted of simply packing up and packing Vanessa, our car for the summer, and driving back to the bay area. I drove barefoot with the windows down and made it back in time to play in my last hockey game of the summer.