Wednesday, July 11, 2007

To the Peak and Back

Last weekend Dad and I went on a backpacking trip in the Holy Cross Wilderness with men from three congregations in Colorado. It was a long drive to our first campsite. When we finally reached the campsite, we were already late. We had a supper of food bars that I did not enjoy, but someone gave me an extra hot dog which I cooked over the campfire. Uncle John, Dad and I used our headlamps to pitch our tent.

We woke up at 4:30 and for breakfast Dad and I had an extremely disgusting seed and nut bar. We started hiking, but before we reached the trailhead, the hooks on my hiking boots caught, and I fell with my heavy pack on top of me. I was not hurt aside from a bloody nose.

We hiked up the mountainside until we came to a boulder field where we dropped off our packs, had devotions, and got out our day packs. The men intended to climb fourteen thousand foot Mount of the Holy Cross, but since Dad and I were going more slowly, we decided to just climb the thirteener, Notch Mountain. I was the photographer. We hiked up to the timber line and in front of us lay meadows of wildflowers. We hiked through the meadows taking pictures as we went.

As we went up the mountain, the air got thinner, and I had to take a break every switchback. We ascended a steep boulder field, and almost at the top, a group of hikers, who had passed us in the meadows and were coming down from the top, said that there were 42 switchbacks on that boulder field. I asked them if they had a helicopter, and they just laughed. Every now and then I took a short cut by climbing straight up to the next switchback (which was easier, giving me time to take a break and still beat Dad.)

Right below the top of Notch Mountain, we met the rest of the group for lunch. Everybody was there, because those who had tried to go all the way up Mount of the Holy Cross turned back because of storm clouds. Dad said that he understood why Notch Mountain got its name, because the pile of boulders which formed the peak had two pointy boulders next to each other forming a notch in the middle. The group sat together close to the top and had devotions.

Dad and I decided to climb up to the top, but before we did, a marmot came up to my boot and nibbled on it. I moved before Dad got a picture of it that close and it ran away. At the base of the highest point, I saw something moving in the rocks and saw that it was a bird. It was almost invisible, because of its camouflage. I called Dad’s attention to it, and he came and said that it was a ptarmigan. He also said that he had never seen one before in real life. He took a few pictures and then we noticed that there was another one near it.

At the top, Dad got a picture of Mt. of the Holy Cross at the same point where William H. Jackson took the famous picture of the Cross in 1873. We skidded down a snow patch on one side and began our hike down.

When we arrived at the camp site, Uncle John had already set up the tent. We went to bed, realizing later that it was only 6:15 p.m. We slept better than at the first campsite. I talked during a dream. I said, “Where are we now?”

Dad answered, “We are in the tent.”

I argued, “No we aren’t,” and then I sat up.

The second time I talked in my sleep, I said something about beetles, because I thought we forgot to put our ground cover on. (We did have our ground cover on.)

In the morning I felt very thirsty for water. Dad went to pump some with our water filter. While he was gone, I threw up. Since I was feeling sick, all the guys split up my pack between them so that I didn’t have to carry it down the trail. We had devotions at the trailhead, got in our truck, and began the long drive home.

No comments: