She had driven her Ford Ranger pick-up, painted the forest green of the National Park Service, from Lone Pine up the narrow switch-back road to Horseshoe Meadows. Her khaki shorts and shirt clung to her young, thin form and showed off strong runner’s legs. I happened to be in the parking lot, retrieving some gear from our car when she pulled up.
Her name tag read, “Cassandra.” I wondered for a half second whether her parents were fans of Greek mythology or just thought it was a nice name. Did they really want to name her for the prophetess who was not believed?
What really caught my attention was her belt buckle. It was rather outsized, measuring a good 5 or 6 inches across with a silver high wing single engine retractable aircraft against a dark blue background pictured in the metal frame.
“A 210 Cessna?” I pointed at her belt.
“Oh, the belt buckle–yes,” she said. “But the only thing I’ve ever flown is a 150.” She was referring to a popular Cessna trainer. “I’m working to get my commercial rating so I can fly for the Forest Service.”
We talked airplanes and flying for a few minutes and then I mentioned our plans. My wife, Andrea, and I were doing some hiking as a tune up for Mt. Whitney. “But, we’re going to go the long way–from here to Guitar Lake and up the back side of the mountain. We’ll backpack and take 3 days to do it.”