In spite of rain, snow, sleet, hail… darkness of day… and unseasonable
Thus, I've been chomping at the bit for a summit and, come rain or snow, recently declared Lovely Ouray's sentinel Twin Peaks "the objective."
Twin Peaks is a relatively modest 10,000 feet above sea level, and some 2,000 feet above our skylight. Whether by naivety or narcissism or both, I was determined to have a peak experience… to gaze down off Gore-tex boot tips on our sleepy, soggy Swiss village from Twin Peaks rocky (icy?) summit. It's a good place to re-contemplate one's insignificance on a random trillionth planet in the Universe.
There is no shortage of opportunity around here. Ten trails lie within walking distance of our hillside perch above Lovely Ouray… hundreds if one is willing to drive ten miles, thousands if you bump the radius to 50 miles. And though it's pushing summer everywhere else in the northern hemisphere, around these parts summiteers are at the mercy of winter's leftovers until July.
|From Old Twin Peaks Trail, looking across Highway 550's switchbacks out of Ouray, and into the Amphitheater above town|
|Bobbie, on the "Stair-master," a pretty high-maintenance trail barely etched into a steep drainage with lots of rockfall and earth slides.|
|You can get a feel for Old Twin Peaks Trail's steepness by Bobbie's angle of incline… a good stretch for achilles tendons.|
In spite of the day being cool and cloudy, Old Twin Peaks Trail broke a good sweat within 10 minutes. Must have been the humidity. All goes well on the "zig zag" and soon we are rejoined about half way to the summit with the modest trail. Scant snow, so we push on and go for it.
It doesn't take long for trail conditions (and my spirits) to plummet. We are forced to cross several avalanche shoots, with nothing to arrest a "slip-up" except our flimsy hiking poles. The going is difficult and unpredictable, hardened ice is slick, but alternates with crusted snow that suddenly gives way and left us "post-holed" up to our crotches and struggling to retrieve a lost leg from the deep freeze. On the other side of the snowfields a trail pops out nice and dry, a lure, "if we can just get across this bad spot maybe…"
But the higher we go, of course, the worse it gets. Then it begins to snow and the wind kicks up. Bare legs are scratched and cut by ice shards from all the "post-holing," and snow has by now worked it's way into our boots and soaked feet in ice water.
Where it's too dangerous, we leave the trail and attempt to make our way around, grabbing onto pine boughs, aspen trees… roots. We cross bear tracks, then mountain lion tracks… a big heavy cat judging from it's imprint.
Being Male, I dislike being turned back from an objective about as much as I dislike asking directions when hopelessly lost. It seems men are deeply predictable creatures, hard-wired to take the path of most resistance. Add to that we are also conditioned by one of the cruelest of childhood fraternities: "The Neighbor-Hood." Memories (nightmares) of "Chicken," and "What's the matter scardy-cat, do you want your Mama?" get replayed, even decades later. It doesn't make sense, I know, but it's there, if only on a subconscious level, playing in the backgrounds like irritable elevator Muzak.
Thankfully, I get cold. I can endure much, but when I get cold I really do want my Mama… could care less about ridicule or taunts from Bullies. Just give me my blanky!"
Maybe we'll try again on Memorial weekend...if it quits snowing by then.