Monday, February 13, 2017

Three Ridges of views (final)

I was the earliest wakeup, but everyone else on the ridge was already out of the camp when I left. Pledge antics ran until about midnight, cheers, rap music singalongs, et cetera. Yawn.

Yesterday, as I was clearing out and moving my tent to the farthest point I could, one of them asked me if I was a Greek during my time at U. Va. "No," I replied, "I was a grad student."

All their expressions went flat -- easily read. "Egad, he's one of the Enemy!"

After I had gathered and moved all of my camping gear to the other side of the ridge and just before sundown, a small flock of women walked past and headed down toward the campground. Sister sorority? Hope they enjoyed all the male attention they must have received, at whatever level ... not good role models, I think, for guys or for girls.

Anyhow. Southbound and up this morning into the clouds wrapping the 3975 foot Three Ridges Summit (aka Bee Mountain).

On the way up I met another hiker moving at about my speed Classifying hikers is pretty easy when you know the signs: 30s/40s, tall, heavy in the middle, good gear, well fitted out pack. Classification: experienced hiker out for exercise/ recovery from health issue. Turned out to be dealing with diabetes, does his own checks and insulin shots on the trail -- I spoke admiringly of his efforts to fight the disease.

He acknowledged that it was a tough one, then grinned and said, "My trail name is Fuji Snail. You know Mount Fuji, in Japan?"

I allowed that I still have some plans for that hill someday.

"There's a Japanese philosopher's saying: a snail may climb Fuji slowly, but the snail still climbs."

We parted at the second vista, where he stopped to do the tests and injections needed to control his blood sugar while looking out over a hundred miles of tiny towns and farms and feeling the wind gusts trying to snatch your hat or handkerchief.

At the summit, deep into clouds. Great views of their insides! But, like humans, pretty much the same as everyone else´s.

Then, down through boulder river and rock scrambles.

While descending, I met a small group laboring up the slope. Classification keys: light athletic shoes, no packs, no warmth layers, maybe one in two carrying a small water bottle. Classification: rescue team customers.

The lead RTC greeted me by asking how long it had been since I left the summit. "About 45 minutes," I replied, "but that was going down. Going up took about two hours on the other side, and this is a lot harder."

After casting other aspersions of doubt and fear on their intent, I wished them a good day on the trail, and continued on. Hike your own hike, folks, I'm hiking mine.

Across  the valley, The 4000+ foot Priest towered over the lesser hills collected around its massive sides. Already climbed that trail last year, entered a ¨confession¨ in the shelter log at the summit to prove it.

Over a thousand feet below-- the Tye River Valley. The Ion is there, unmolested, ready to take me to an ice cream store tomorrow. Keys are in my pocket? Check.

I again had to argue myself out of trying to skip a planned stop and just trudge on to make sure that the Ion was all right. Stopping was a good choice! Harpers Creek is another hidden idyll, a cheerfully babbling stream running down a deeply forested valley, with the ridges I had just walked towering over the trees along an arc stretching from NNW to SSE.  

High winds, a burst of rain that had me racing to get the tent set up, and a sudden drop in temperature all herald a return to normal February weather. Time to fold the tent and get out of the mountains.

More photos

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