Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Day After

Well, today I'm laying low and just hanging out at the campground. It's actually getting a bit cloudy, so hopefully it doesn't portend significant rain for later. Anyhow, I'm licking my wounds after a pretty tough hike up and down Mt. Antero yesterday. I hit the trail at 1:20am yesterday morning, and was on top by 6:15am, right before sunrise.

So, to back things up a bit spatially, and present them in reverse chronological order (since I walked up in the dark), this is roughly how it went getting to the top. At about tree line the summit was finally in view.

After following a winding and very rough jeep road up some big switchbacks, I finally got to the point where vehicles turn back.

Immediately behind me in the picture above is the following view, which greets people headed to the top. I wonder how many of those folks, who strap on 2,000+ pounds of gear to get themselves up here (i.e. a vehicle), instead of the 20-something pounds I carried and wore, turn around when they see the final ridge and summit pitch.

The final summit pitch was very loose granite talus, which shifted underfoot with almost ever step. The dearth of air to breathe at this altitude, compared to the relatively copious atmosphere at the bottom, doesn't aid the endeavor.

Once back down at the road to St. Elmo, a nifty little "ghost town", I eased my weary bones into my faithful steed El Civ, and motored (at the speed limit, of course) back to the campground and something to eat.

I'll be making an early, early start tomorrow morning to drive the 50 miles to the trail head for Mt. Sherman, which is up near Fairplay, CO. I hopefully will be able to get to the higher parking area, which will make for a hike of about one third the length and half the vertical gain of Mt. Antero's 15 miles round trip and 5,200 vertical feet gained. I'll assess how I feel after this hike, and will make the call on doing Mt. Evans and Bierstadt Mountain on Friday at that point. Hopefully rain can keep clear of the forecast for another few days. Anyhow, I'm flexible with this itinerary, so whatever will be, will be.

Shortly before I started this trip, somebody made a comment about why I would want to haul myself on top of all these big rock piles. All I have to say, is you have to experience it for yourself to understand. There is a great sense of finite accomplishment in summiting a mountain. I got myself to that mark on the map under my own power. I achieved a pinnacle, an accomplishment that is and will forever be. You usually learn quite a lot about yourself in the process, too.

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.
~Edmund Hillary

1 comment:

Becky said...

Looks like a great trip. Drive safe!