07 August 2012

I’ve definitely progressed beyond the standard routes for most of the easy walk-up peaks. For Quandary, I opted for the west ridge, which included some route-finding, a few class III walls, and some pretty substantial exposure. Now that’s fun! 

I slept in this morning, because I wanted to get a good look at what the weather was going to do before I got going. Besides, I only had two miles to the summit along the ridge, then about 6.5 miles down the standard route and along the road back to my trailhead of origin. Easy. Ok, not that easy. It took me about three hours to reach the summit. I pushed my limits a little bit by managing all of the route-finding solo without using my references. (Yes, they were in my pocket in case I got myself into trouble.) Much of the trail wasn’t very well-marked, but that’s what I was expecting. It was a great experience, if a bit tedious and sketchy at times. The funny part? It took me less than three hours to cover the 6.5 miles back to my car from the summit. That’s the standard route for ya.

On the final (big) class III wall before the summit, I chose the class IV line for the upper half. I wanted to get a taste of the class IV action while I still had the option to skip it. It felt good, really good. One step a time, one move at a time, one wall at a time. I’m really lovin’ pushing my limits out here. It makes me feel like I’m living better, harder, faster than before. I can feel myself growing physically, mentally, and emotionally with each new experience, each new place, each new job.

When I finally got back to my car, right at 12p, I was greeted by a few other hikers and a clan of mountain goats, three babies and an adolescent among them. I’d seen the same group in the basin below the ridge on the way up this morning, and again from the summit ridge on my descent (I could barely make out their white coats in the parking lot, and I didn’t expect them to still be there when I finally arrived a few hours later). Over the course of the day, I’d snapped over 200 photos of them, many of those in poor light in the morning, so I was pleased they were still in the mood for pictures this afternoon. Well, pleased until I found out from another hiker that one of the little ones had hopped up onto my car just before I arrived. Apparently he was checking out the rocket box; must’ve expected some sort of treats. I went over to inspect. Sure enough, I could see the scuff marks from his little hooves. He’d been on the hood, the roof, and even a little on the trunk. At least he didn’t pee on it. Well, at least I don’t think he did. I can’t be too upset. There don’t seem to be any serious dents or other damage, just some scuff marks. It’s about time she got a little beat up anyways; it’s been four years! Besides, it’s worth it just for the story. And one of the bystanders offered to email me a photo, so I’m obviously looking forward to that!