Of course the man-friend and I planned an epic. Maybe too much of an epic for winter. But heck. We're having a crappy start to the snow season, so I BET that there's BARELY any snow. Yeah, right.
We set off at 5:30am and had some delicious hearty breakfast in McDonald's on the way up. We got to the trailhead at around 8:00am and started hiking. We were aiming towards Mt. Harvard and Columbia. We knew it was going to be a long day (somewhere around 16 miles) but as we got started, SURPRISE! Nothing but snow. The walk was slower than I had hoped for and once we got close to tree line, the trail was barely there. We had to break trail in some sections and above tree line, we were definitely post-holing.
|Yes... I stare at my watch until it finds the satellites... As if staring would speed the process.|
|YES! We made it. And we're smiling at... SOMETHING? Cause the 50mph gusts were definitely not funny.|
The wind was insane, but it seemed to calm as we lost elevation, it was still sorta nasty... but the ridge started getting a little too sketchy. It was taking us forever to walk on it (well, I should say, it was taking me forever) and we finally made a decision to drop a little lower so we could continue on safe terrain. By the time we got to the bottom there were some things happening:
1. We had dropped all the way down to 12,500 ft. If we wanted to summit we had to go back up 1,600 ft.
2. Number 1 wouldn't usually be a problem, but it was already 4:00pm
3. Number 2 wouldn't usually be a problem, but in mid-November, the sun sets at 4:45pm.
4. Number 3 wouldn't be a problem (cause we always carry headlamps), but 50 mph winds at the summit and snowy ridge walks would make for a VERY sketch decent in the dark.
5. All of the above wouldn't usually be a problem, but we were standing at 12,500 ft on the OTHER side of the ridge, in the wrong valley. To get to our car, we had to go back up and down to the right valley.
Did any of that make ANY sense?? Let me see if I can explain with a map:
|This is what we attempted|
|Aren't we in a pickle?|
|View of the valley we were leaving behind (with Columbia - the pointy one on the right)|
|Sunset in the backcountry|
We eventually made it to the trailhead... it could not be darker. We were hoping we'd find someone camping but not a soul. we kept walking down the road. I must say, I was happy to be on the road. I really didn't care how much farther we had to go, but being on the road was a blessing. We weren't sure how the rest of our night was going to turn out, but the one thing we knew was that we were ok and in good spirits. In the middle of one of our many chats I asked: "Well, what would one do if in trouble? I mean, we are ok... but let's say we make it out fine, but one of us is severely dehydrated or hurt? Do you call the cops?". I can't lie, that made us think... well, yes. I guess one would call the cops. We took a break and Chuck took out his phone and turns out we had service. We googled Chaffee County Sheriff's Office and called. We made sure they understood we were ok and were just walking but we were wondering if someone could give us a ride to our car. We still had NO idea how far we were, honestly. They offered to call Search and Rescue. Wait what? We don't need to be rescued. Well, we needed a ride... and apparently, they're the ones that could give us one.
We got a call back from Jim, from SAR. he mentioned he lived 10 minutes away and could come get us. We kept walking down the dirt road and met up with him 15 minutes later. It took roughly 10 minutes to drive down the dirt road to the highway and another 15 minutes to town back up the right dirt road and to our car. We eventually mapped it and we came out 25 miles away from our car. That would've been a long walk. We got back in our car, drove to town and had some dinner. While we usually get sleepy on the drive back home, especially after long days. It seemed like this time around we still had so much to talk about. We were super chatty the whole way back to Boulder and the thought of that makes me smile. We got home a little after midnight, showered and went to bed. We both fell asleep quite fast.
Can I say one last thing? This is why I love my man... I love waking up to a new adventure every day.
Until next time...
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all." Helen Keller