Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tuesday: getting High

Still recovering from Monday's summit climb and descent, we still rose shortly after sunup, breakfasted, and struck camp. Full packs, with extra water.

At the base of the scree slope, Kirsten and I carefully reviewed the possible ascent options. Where was the cross trail at the top where our climb would finish? We could not see it. 

We chose our path to work upward in short scrambles between the islands of relatively stable ground. Kirsten chose to pick out sure footing among the rivers of middle-sized shards, while I dug my boots in and worked upward on finer gravel. We alternated leads, leapfrogging between patches of evergreen scrub and avoiding looking back down until we were firmly seated on solid outcrops. 

Very aware of our novice abilities, the long open slope at our backs, and our packs' effect on our balance, we climbed slowly. Finally, I spotted a long, flat difference in the slope's appearance under the rising sun. We debated. Could it be the trail? We climbed higher. 

It was the trail, success after an hour's struggle! High fives and hugs for making it on our own before the more experienced hikers caught up.

We followed the well defined track south off the scree, off the mountain, and down to the meeting point on the ridge.

At the intersection, Kirsten chose a grove out of the sun. Unfolding my sleeping pad, I lay back, watched the wiry little tree's branches move in the morning breeze, and enjoyed the peaceful quiet. 

A hummingbird, the only one I ever saw on the trip whirred up and perched less than a yard above me! 

When Kevin and Tom arrived from their scouting of the trail ahead, we repacked our gear and hikedl south towards High Lake. Onward!

As Kirsten and I approached the turn around a bluff that would reveal the lake to us, Keith hailed us from a rock outcropping on the ridge above us. "Snow blocked! Come around, come up this way!"

We looked up the thirty feet incline of sharp-edged boulders, scrub, and loose rocks, shook our heads, sighed, and picked our way up the slope. Sure, why not? Compared to our morning ascent, it was hardly worth mentioning.

An hour later, we descended a slope laid bare of shade by a forest fire last year. The afternoon sun ate away our fading energy, leaving little strength left to appreciate the alpinr lake's quiet beauty nd set up camp in a grove of unburned trees at the lake's edge. We beat back the mosquitos, ate and retired.

One  more mountain pass, and the finish line for the full circuit hike would be in sight.

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