I had hoped to do a prenuptial photo shoot of Caleb and Kelli on The Dragon's Back summit of Red Mountain 1. But once again, the weather didn't cooperate with the forecast. Winds gusted near 40 mph while we waited, and waited, and waited, for Old Sol to show his face through threatening black clouds. I wasn't about to tempt Zeus and Thor on some exposed ridge line... risk a funeral instead of a wedding.
The day's hike seemed busted, or so we thought. But just as we descended Corkscrew's long and winding Jeep road to the pavement, clouds parted like the Red Sea and Sol shed his light upon the the mountains.
It was afternoon by then, and to be honest, I was ready for a little catnap. But "some," and they shall remain nameless, still wanted a hike. I pulled Pet Rex over at Crystal Lake's dam near Ironton, trailhead for the infamous "Stair-Master," Hayden Trail. You want a hike? I'll give you a effing hike! Prepare to die!
The wind wasn't too bad switchbacking through dense aspen/conifer woods. A few leaves quaked yellow in the breeze, hinting at fall. Right out of the gate Hayden is a series of stairs that will tries to wash out the weak. Legs burn, asses ach, and calf muscles knot up like leftover spaghetti. We soldiered on. Once we reached timber line I caught a "second wind," followed by a third and forth until it became a steady gale. Man, it was all any of us could do to stay upright and on the trail. As if verticality wasn't excuse enough for a future daughter-in-law to want never to return, top it with wind gusts of 40 mph, then ask, "How you like us now?"
Caleb likes a "Payoff" on his hikes... something to go "Wow" at. I had hope to make it to a nifty volcanic area on Hayden Pass. But, being ready to bag this wind tunnel of a hike as soon as we cleared timber myself, I didn't have high hopes of a group summit.
The gang strung out on the trail, wobbling in the wind like a wedding party that spent too much time at the Free Bar. Looking down, I saw Kelli blown to the ground. What ever blasphemies she was calling me at that moment got gobbled up by wind, and never reached my ears. Truly, it was a test of character to reach the pass in those conditions. I'm happy to say everyone made it. I patted Kelli on the leg at the top and screamed over the howling wind, "You're a tough little bugger." She pulled out a Kleenex and wiped her nose, "Did I get it?"
Those kids got some serious grit, and, as we all know, they're going to need it to make a marriage last a lifetime.
|Headed back down to the highway... only a couple thousand feet vertically|