"I think I climb mountains because I get a great deal of enjoyment out of it. I get satisfaction out of overcoming some challenge which is difficult… perhaps maybe a little dangerous." Edmund Hillary
There are times when I need to go to the mountains alone, someplace I have to work at to get to… break a sweat, heave for air. There is spiritual/emotional magic when one combines mountains and aloneness, it clears the head, resets priorities and perspectives, and diminishes woes. Mountains are impartial; they don't care. Mountains could give a rats ass about our egos… our laughable self-assigned significance, our silly little problems, or even if we fall to our death. It happens all the time—anywhere there is a mountain to be climbed—we are compelled, drawn by their majesty and indifference.
Above timberline, the higher one climbs the smaller they become. They are but a speck, immersed in a vast sea of uninterrupted waves that roll on as far as the eye can see. It is something we need in today's world of boundaries, living in cocoons that make us feel safe and comfortable among the familiar—our cube at work, our living room, our climate controlled car, full of airbags that cushions mistakes.
But up there, above timberline, no woods to box us in, under infinite skies, a couple of notches down the food chain, at the mercy of unpredictable weather and lightening and rockfall… no airbags to cushion "mistakes," no cell signal to call 911, well, it puts us back in our place. It is good for the mind and soul. But we can't happily exist in a vacuum for long. After all, we are social beings at heart, and thus it's fun to occasionally drag friends along and share our hikes to splendid places.
Sometimes, like yesterday, just getting to and from a mountain can be as difficult as the climb itself, especially when the group grows larger and more diverse. Not everyone is as comfortable as we are bounding up narrow, bouldered four wheel drive roads that lean in toward precipitous drop-offs. It's understandable; there are a few things I don't really care for either, like big cities with buildings that block out the sun, and walking sidewalks shoulder to shoulder/nuts to butts with a zillion stone faced strangers.
Our journey to the trail head required a similar shoulder to shoulder/nuts to butts arrangement in Petroleous Rex. Five people banged heads in the cab, while four or five more piled into Pet Rex's capped bed, only to get tossed helter-skelter with gear and poles into a salad. To say the road was "rough," is like saying Halle Berry is "pretty," a huge understatement.
It didn't help that we seriously bottomed out a couple times on the way up, something that necessitated Chinese fire drill evacuations in order to gain ground clearance enough to move on. Coming back down was even worse. Somehow I managed to high center Pet Rex's front axle on a boulder. It was humiliating to be rescued by, of all things, a Rental Jeep! Thank goodness I had a log-chain or we'd still be up there.
I'll let the Postcards tell the rest of the story of our trek to Blue Lakes Pass… a windswept 13,000 foot divide between Ouray and San Miguel counties and lies in the shadow of our local 14'er, Mount Sneffels.
|Take To The Highway Suzanne|
|In spite of what Suzanne says over on Take To The Highway… she's finding her High Altitude Gear!!!|
|Chris and Life's Little Adventurer Gayle|
|Chris, in his "Happy Place"|
|The Leaders… but it's not a race, damn it!!!!|
|14'er Mount Sneffels… can you see the climbers standing on the summit?|
|Part time full-timer Kimbopolo and Debbie, pausing for a mandatory photo opp on the way to Blue Lakes Pass… shown just over their heads. Kim earned a Red Rocks Gang Junior Ranger Badge and a Scrap Cookie for her "above and beyond the call of reason" gritty high altitude performance. After arriving only the day before from Alabama… all of 600 feet above sea level… she made it all the way to a 13,000 foot pass. I would have lost that bet… Congrats, Kimbopolo|
|The final push to Blue Lakes Pass|
|But after a blue sky and sun approach… clouds moved in just as we summited. The lights are flat out in Blue Lakes… my promise of a glorious view was diminished to shadow and Ho Hum.|
|Park your asses, people… were going to wait this gloom out, come lightening strike, Hell, or high-water!!|
|Ms Peterman… showing off her "catalogue style."|
|While the rest of us show off our Second Hand Store style :)|
|Kim on the summit!!! Still breathing!!! I am soooo relieved.|
|Maybe the "Moss Rock" gang would be more fitting till we get to Utah...|
|Still waiting on the sun, damn it!|
|Oh look!!! a small beginning...|
|But it's windy, the troops are getting cold...|
|Stand your ground, people, we may get lucky|
|Check out that vanilla fudge moraine… beautiful.|
|Clouding up again… time to head down. The wind is howling, Debbie needs two hiking poles to steady herself, while Chris Holds onto his hat.|
|Suzanne and Mark (with Debbie's back and Kimbopolo in between) at Mouse's Chocolates for well deserved Scrap Cookies. Thanks, Suzanne :)|