Sunday was my 10th hike up Sonora Peak.
It was by far the best — and that’s saying a lot.
The first time up it was a thrill to take in the 360 panorama of the Sierra for the first time ever.
As Alpine County’s highest peak at 11,464 feet it’s an impressive view.
I’ve also trudged through snow that was several feet deep to about halfway up in mid-spring.
There’s been hikes where wildflowers in the early summer were incredible.
A late autumn hike up Sonora Peak is a big treat as well.
That is especially true when I did it for “time”.
I managed to do the 6.5 mile round-trip hike with 2,009 feet in elevation gain in a little over 3½ hours. It was an exhilarating departure from my usual 4½ to 5½ hours given I was able to do at age 63.
But all of that paled compared to Sunday’s hike.
The reason was simple.
I was standing at the summit with my grandson, Rein Lenhart.
My preference for day hikes is solo.
It was pure nirvana last year when I strung together six consecutive day hikes into remote canyons and up several peaks in Death Valley without encountering another soul.
The entire week — save for daily phone calls to verify I had returned to my home base — I said less than 50 words to other people . And that was primarily at a general store, gas stations, and the process of checking in and out of the Stovepipe Wells hotel.
That might shock some who know me given I can’t seem to stop talking non-stop at times.
Hiking on both sides of the Sierra Crest, Death Valley, and in the Coastal Mountains has enriched my life in countless ways.
There’s obviously the beauty, the solitude, the benefit of exercise, and the ability to clear your head.
It also makes you appreciate how rich and fortunate we are to be living in California.
Yes, it can get crazy here, it is challenge to deal with the cost of living and — as the Gatlin Brothers can tell you — all the gold in California these days is in a bank in Beverly Hills in someone else’s name.
The weather, the bounty grown here, things such as soaring redwoods or wretched looking bristlecone pines, the contrasting and varied terrain, the cosmopolitan cities, the intense melting pot of cultures as well as food, and the fact you can literally hike in snow at 8,000 feet and then finish the day soaking up rays while lying on an ocean beach in the same day.
That and more is well work the trade-offs.
Hiking has also helped me not only learn more about myself but that I can push past self-imposed limitations by looking at things differently.
That helps open other doors including your heart.
Nothing tops standing on a prominent peak looking over a small yet vast part of creation.
Or, for that matter, relaxing next to a lake at 11,000 feet as breezes tumble down from mountain peaks to caress the water to create soothing rippling sounds.
As I stood there watching Rein soak in the view for the first time, it re-enforced the truth we all too often brush aside.
The most satisfying moments in live are when you share it with others.
It is even more so when it is with those a generation or two — or even three — behind you.
Over the years I’ve been fortunate to be a part of Rein’s life — even if it is relatively small.
This is the same 7-year-old who had a smile wider than Texas strutting around dressed like Woody — think Toy Story — in our driveway trying to twirl a six-shooter.
He’s the same 8-year-old whose mother needed to drop him by unexpectedly on an August afternoon when it was 100 degrees just as I was ready to go for a jog.
I was just going to deep six the jog and hang with Rein.
However, Rein insisted we go for a run.
He said he loved to run and that he wanted to run with me. He told me how he ran all the time at New Haven School and that he could run 10 miles.
So, against my better judgment — as I’m sure his Nana would have killed me if she found out — we went for a jog in the 100-degree heat.
I made sure we had a full water bottle and slowed the pace down.
Rein kept chatting away and I made sure he was drinking as we hit the streets.
We ended up just going a little more than a mile. He ended up draining almost the entire bottle of water.
And he kept talking about how cool it was to have gone with Papa on a run.
I have no idea what Usain Bolt felt like when he set the 100 meter world record in 2009, but I’m willing to bet the euphoria I felt after that jog was 10 times greater.
I’ve hiked with Rein twice before when he finished his senior year at Manteca High after returning from Georgia with his sister Katelyn to live with their Nana.
Once was at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The other was at Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite National Park.
Although Rein isn’t what one might call excitable, you could tell from the look in his eyes that he was impressed by the world he was being shown.
How our latest venture came about is Rein wanted to go for a bicycle ride with Papa with all the places we talked about back when he was 9 year-old and I told him he had the makings of the next Greg Lemond..
At that time, I was only willing to ride with him on the Tidewater Bikeway. Hitting roadways to bicycle to Knights Ferry and the other places I would back then that he wanted to ride along with me were out of the question for obvious reasons. Even more so today thanks to the prevalence of drivers with cell phones.
We decided that it would be easier — and perhaps more enjoyable — to hike instead.
Rein, who turned 26 on Tuesday, held his own.
But as every first time elevation hiker finds out your body requires a little bit of an adjustment.
It was a perfect day.
And the only way I could every top it is if 12 years or so from now I’m atop Sonora Peak at 78 years of age watching as my great-granddaughter Rebel and/or great-grandson Wyatt have their eyes filled with wonder scanning the horizon.
Life couldn’t get any better than that.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org