Amy didn’t love backpacking. She hated bugs, for starters, and she cringed at the thought of going to the bathroom in the woods. And she was scared of bears, even though she’d never seen one in the wild and her boyfriend, Paul, told her that the Sierras were totally safe, you just had to hang your food from a tree. Food! Yet another thing Amy found distasteful about the whole enterprise. She had been raised in Brooklyn’s Chinatown, where her grandmother, Wei, ensured the family never encountered anything resembling gorp.
But Amy loved Paul, and Paul loved backpacking, so she was trying. The two had met in their junior year at UCLA, in an anthro class called Culture of Intersubjectivity. They didn’t get much from the course—who did?—but the diminutive, black-haired New Yorker and the blond San Diego kid who didn’t surf remained a couple more than a year later. Early on, Amy determined that she wouldn’t let backpacking be a “guys” thing that Paul did without her. Indeed, it was Amy herself who proposed they hike to Diamond Lake for the weekend.
She’d been there once before—with Paul, of course—and despite the mosquitoes and the peeing in the woods, she could see it was a special place. Granite spires rose sharply above the lake and a mirror image shined in the glassy water. A meadow-side camp afforded a perfect view of both the peaks above and the canyon below, where a river filled the air with the soft, distant hum of moving water.