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Friday, January 9, 2015

Into Thin Air

The above photo was taken from a windswept ridge line summit above U. S. Basin on Bobbie's birthday hike. We cross country skied to this exact spot once before 32 years ago, and it was etched in our collective memory as a beautiful, but grueling climb. But now, we are twice as old—or half as young, take your pick—and clumping our way on snowshoes, which don't exactly glide with the greatest of ease. Alas, no free rides down to the car on snowshoes. I'm sure a Life metaphor exists in there somewhere, but I'm too tired and sore to go looking for it.

We tried to reprise this trek last year, but ended up one basin over to the north. This time we adjusted our approach and lucked into U. S. Basin, a broad, steep-sided, sun-splashed snow bowl, with a distant horizon line that appeared far and away out of reach. 

But this is Bobbie's birthday, and birthdays should be memorable—especially when it is a hallmark event like entering one's seventh, oops, make that eighth decade (gasp). In my mind, if we could successfully reprise this trek it would prove that age is just a number, that we are just as alive and kicking as we were 32 long years ago—provided this hair-brained attempt didn't kill one or the both of us,  which would seal the deal on making it memorable, but not so much in a good way.

Saint Paul's backcountry ski lodge

U. S. Basin… heading for the saddle

Looking back

On the windswept saddle… just shy of 13,000 feet… and looking south east toward Silverton

You've known from the lead photo that we made it. And now we pay the price :).  On the way down I wondered out loud if we would be able to complete this same trek a decade from now, on Bobbie's 80th birthday. Came the reply, "One at a time, dear. We can't say we've completed this one yet."


  1. Please don't tell me Bobbie had her 70th birthday. really? you said entering her 7th decade. I hope it was her 60th birthday. Love that last line a lot! but you did complete it, and lived to tell us.

  2. I was wondering the same thing. Something doesn't compute!

  3. It was a brain fart. I was trying not to say 70 years old😜

  4. You two are AWESOME! What a fabulous way to spend a milestone birthday!

  5. Well I am amazed at you two. Age is clearly just a number for you. Seems skiing would be easier so you have one upped yourselves. Fabulous!!

  6. Stunning photography and landscape. How far was the round trip hike and do you know the elevation gain? G

    1. Thanks Anon…
      We parked on Red Mountain Pass, about 11,000 feet, and ended up near 13,000 feet on the ridge. It got pretty steep toward the end and the thin air was getting to us. In the end I would guess round trip was close to six miles…give or take. We had the whole basin all to ourselves…an added bonus :)

  7. You guys are Frikkin awesome Trekkers...for any age. Love that top shot. Nice balance with the sun streak. I'm too wimpy to take snow shots. That would mean I'd actually have to be there :)

  8. Amazing photos, hike AND hikers!

  9. Your photos are beautiful - like always...and they look as cold as the ones we make up here north.


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