Ansel Adams Wilderness, California and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
To help celebrate Marie’s birthday I planned not one but two weekend getaways.
First up: backcountry camping at Ediza Lake in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Marie had been wanting to go there for years – ever since she saw photos from a visit I made back in 2009 – and I managed to get a permit that would let us hike up the Shadow Creek Trail and camp at Ediza for two nights.
For seven miles we struggled under our heavy packs and marveled at the stark alpine scenery. After a steep final ascent we finally arrived at Ediza Lake, where we had to hop across a large rockfall to reach the campsites.
Marie was a good sport, but the altitude medication she’d taken wasn’t working. Her head hurt and she felt nauseous. We both slept poorly that night, and I didn’t even need my alarm to wake up for pre-dawn photos. The first light of day hitting the tops of the mountains was magical. I don’t think there’s a more beautiful lake in all of California.
After breakfast Marie felt well enough to hike to Iceberg Lake, another mile up the trail.
The altitude continued to affect Marie, so we decided to hike back out that afternoon. Ediza Lake more than lived up to Marie’s expectations, but the trip was also a last straw. She said she was done with high altitude camping. “Time to accept that I’m a lowlander.”
Thankfully our second trip kept us at sea level. It had been a while since Marie had some beach time, so I decided to surprise her with a weekend of sun and sand. I didn’t want to spend more than a few hours on a plane, and I preferred to go somewhere that would be new to both of us. Cabo San Lucas, at the very southern tip of Baja California, checked all the boxes.
I told Marie only that we were going somewhere warm and that she’d need to pack a swimsuit and her passport. That was enough for her to guess Mexico, but the specific destination, at least, was a surprise until we arrived at our departure gate.
The flight had a Vegas vibe, with a rowdy, heavy-drinking crowd. “I dare you to yell, ‘Cabo, wooooo!!!’ when we land,” I told Marie.
She at least pretended to consider it before saying no.
I noticed before we left that the weather forecast looked ominous, but I hadn’t realized that a major storm – Hurricane Norma – was heading right for Cabo. We had bright sun on Friday, but the sea was already so turbulent that most of the beach was closed to swimming. In the morning we took a boat out to see the El Arco rock formation, and the captain said conditions were too rough for him to take us around to the Pacific side of the arch. Lover’s Beach and Divorce Beach were both closed.
Clouds moved in on Saturday, but nothing serious. We spent most of the day at the pool, and that night at a restaurant on the beach I had the best shrimp tacos of my life. On Sunday morning we learned that Hurricane Norma had faded into a tropical storm and turned west, sparing Cabo from a direct hit.
Marie was a little disappointed. She’d been looking forward to imitating one of those reporters who tries to create drama by standing in the middle of a hurricane and describing what they’re experiencing. Instead we had nothing more than light rain, and our flight back home left right on time.
I spent the next week being lazy at Marie’s place, venturing out only because I’d been lucky enough to get a site at Kirby Cove, a small campground behind a tiny sliver of beach right next to the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. My friends Phil and Lawrence joined me, along with Lawrence’s adorable seven-year-old daughter Lucia, who seemed to have a blast playing in the surf and sleeping in a tent.
If I haven’t already said it, this whole traveling-and-not-working thing is pretty sweet.