Ryan had never bonked before, at least in the endurance sport overexertion sense of the word. When he started to bumble around and kept losing more and more of his edge, I knew something was up and that it was probably him doing just that. Not really realizing what was going on, he kept on trying to mountain bike further up the Colorado Trail, although with diminishing returns. The big patches of snow that still littered the trail, even though it was June, were probably a good thing, since they ultimately turned us all, which included him, around. His disrupted mental and physical state likely made the retreat more palatable to the 13 year old, since he wasn’t one to be prone to turn around before his goal was reached, regardless of the level of difficulty that he faced.
“You’re not lost if you don’t care where you are,”or something to that effect, is a famous quote. I repeated it several times to myself as we kept walking into the thick fog and headed toward the summit of Chiefs Head in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. I was bringing up the rear of a group of ten teenage backpackers. Normally, I would’ve been completely confident about where Mike was leading us, except that one of his Colorado Mountain School guides, Dennis, was at the back of the line with me and kept muttering about how we were going up the wrong mountain.
He hadn’t felt very strong ever since lunch. His backpack felt increasingly heavy and the big uphill into Pinto Park was yet to come. He was not a complainer and was intent on not starting to become one at this point. He wondered if the weakness that he was feeling maybe had something to do with the water that he’d gotten out of the creek during the break before lunch. He realized that he hadn’t even looked at his water in the bottle before drinking it. What if it was full of all kinds of weird stuff, he wondered to himself?
A mysterious thirst is quenched.
The sixteen empty soda bottles sat on the counter in the Cerro Colorado store for two days before the shopkeeper finally stuck them down with the others. They’d been a good conversation piece while sitting out there in the open, but he’d found a spider in one of them just that morning and since he needed to move them anyway, put them into some of the empty slots in the wooden Fanta case down on the floor. After he’d tidied things up a bit more, he thought about dragging the whole box of empties out from behind the Sabritas rack where the bottles would be more visible and still be the talk of the town, but realized that if he did so, it would just be in the way and would make things look disorganized. And so he just drug it out and stuck it in the back room.
The second part of an adventure climb in the Wind River Range
From down at the bottom of the climb, we’d envisioned what the scramble up to the rope-up spot and to a lesser extent the first pitch would be like and were mentally prepared for both. But things above that point were fuzzy, although we were confident that it would all become clearer once we got up there. Better not to confuse the issue with too much of a plan, we’d determined.
Climbing an unnamed buttress in the Winds…..
In Two Parts………..
There’s a place deep in the heart of the Wind River Range that we called Golden Lake. There are no marked trails that go there and if you look on a real map there’s nothing with that name. There actually is a lake up there, but it has another name. It sits in a basin of sorts, along with two others. The basin is actually a glacial cirque which sits at the top of an obscure drainage which leads down to the North Fork of the Popo Agie River. The main lake of the three is full of Golden Trout. Thus, the name.
It wasn’t the easy way out of the predicament, but we chose the more physically painful of the two options and climbed up the steep saddle that led us out of Paradise Park and down into Hell Canyon.
This is how we got to that point: Continue reading “Hell Canyon”
There had to be a solution, she kept thinking, but it wasn’t jumping out at her. Nothing about the situation made any sense. The only part of it that she was certain about was that a logical person just wouldn’t act like that. Her mind was working hard to come up with an answer, even if there wasn’t one. Maybe, she continued…….. and then her train of thought was instantly broken as she stepped across and put her weight up onto her left foot, which she’d perched solidly up on the top little platform edge of a half inch thick flake of granite. She reached over to the slab, pinched a small nubbin’ of a crystal between her right thumb and index finger and then pulled herself completely up and off of the cheat boulder and onto the almost vertical 60 foot tall rock that stood apart from the others. She was then, fully committed to the climb. In that instant, she’d gone from being a psychologist to a rock climber.
Missing a Tutuburi
The countryside opened up as the Silver Trail left the Valley of the Iglesias. Our group of seven had passed a young Tarahumara (the indigenous people of Mexico’s Copper Canyon) earlier in the day and I’d asked about Nacho Kino, an old Tarahumara man whom I’d met while mapping the Silver Trail a few years before.
I could tell the story from the trip about the Swiss barmaid that was hovering around outside my tent late one night asking for my tentmate, Matt. Or the one about Matt and I racing our Swiss guides back down from the top of the Argentine Miroir (a famous rock climb) to a nearby café where our group was waiting. Both occurred in the midst of an adventure trip that the two of us were leading and which included a wide variety of people of varying ages including teenagers, a doctor who was even older than me and my non alpinism-experienced wife. As one of the leaders, I was making every effort to look out for the well-being of the group, but nonetheless, those sorts of “things” kept happening.