Well, it's not far down to paradise, at least it's not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility
Oh the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see
A song by Christoper Cross
As it turns out, the road to Paradise Basin is little more than an attenuated, hide-and-seek game trail. Ms Autumn is nye. I can feel the morning chill on face and hands.
Shadows wax as the sun wanes. Day by day, degree by degree, it slinks into the southern horizon. A low morning sun casts Lookout Mountain in shadow, exacerbating the needled appendage of its summit route.
Our objective is not a summit on Lookout. Instead we settle for a cross-basin ridge run in hopes that the view might connect a few more dots.
In the above photo, between the serrated mountain at the extreme left and the Wetterhorn-like peak to its right, lies a grand basin. It goes by the appellation "Paradise," which more and more these days—and I think Chris Cross would agree—is synonymous with "tranquility."
Bobbie and I have meant to do this hike for a while now, each time flunked by its secretive, un-signed trailhead. Maybe a third try will be the charm.
|Connecting Dots: Beyond the peaks behind Bobbie lies the blue gem, Columbine Lake. The subject of a couple of recent posts, it is set in a paradise basin of its own.
|"Game trail" to Paradise
|Our destination is this seemingly easy ridge line saddle. But the closer we get the steeper it becomes.
|Craggy ridges flourish with turret-like formations.
|The final push to the saddle.
|Bobbie, swallowed by tranquil open space and hundred mile horizons.
|Steely peaks etched blue skies
Views from the saddle defy description. Note Oscar Pass Trail, zigzagging up distant red mountains, and the sleepy, avalanche-prone town of Ophir, way down valley.
|Our crumbly volcanic ridge.
Zoom in and look for the saddle in the far right-center of the above photo (hint: a visible game trail points to it). Readers might recall last years sketchy attempt to climb out of the basin on the other side (Link= On Second Thought). Bobbie and I were fortunate to survive unscathed to a ridge, one that afforded a safer route down. Certainly a memorable climb, one that we'll neither forget nor regret...or repeat.
We scrambled higher among the crumbles of our conglomerate rock ridge-line in hopes of obtaining a view in the direction of our recent Woods Lake (yet to be posted) hike and 14ers El Diente, Mount Wilson, Wilson Peak, and noted 13,913 foot Gladstone Peak.
|Maybe if we climb up there....
Views of the 14ers were eclipsed by a nearby twin-peaked anonymous mountain. We decided to bail off the ridge, down-climb a couple hundred feet and skirt around the crumbles to a assume a better vantage point.
Ah, much better. Bobbie pulls out the map and orients it to true North. Views fall into place. Note the 3 peaks just right of center and in middle ground. From right to left: 14er Wilson Peak, near 14er Gladstone, Mount Wilson, then the ridge to El Diente, who's view is blocked by Mount Wilson.
Thirty year-old long-forgotten stories floated to the surface of our memory as we recalled climbing and surviving those three 14ers...especially El Diente, "The Tooth."
We linger in "Paradise," connecting dots and appreciating our good fortune to still be climbing mountains.
A few more pics from the ridge and heading down...
|Bobbie surveys Paradise for the best route down...
|Alas, there is no "best route." Lungs and legs complain going up: Knees and feet complain going down.
We came, saw no-one, and, excepting our memories, left no trace.
Now go take a hike!
mark and bobbie