If life was boring you'd never have great stories to tell.

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If life was boring you'd never have great stories to tell.

Postby markyv » Sat Jan 01, 2011 7:43 pm

From early June '10

For a few pics from the day check out the link: http://bit.ly/12000ftvo2max

This is an oft-quoted phrase of mine when referring to my choice of lifestyle or things I like to mix myself up in. In this particular case my outings into the mountains.

While any sort of aerobic stress (i.e. training) is frowned upon in my road to recovery and repair I have been green lighted to occasionally head up into the mountains and enjoy the sheer awesomeness that Colorado has to offer. The last place I was able to get endorphins to kick in was up here so it's likely the first place that it'll come back.

On this particular occasion I'd chosen Arapho Pass as my destination. A relatively easy 3 mile out and back hike (walk). Start down in the valley and slowly (and in my case very slowly) gain elevation up above treeline, into the tundra, and onto the pass. I started out amongst snow showers (yes, this is june but this is also 11,ooo feet and Colorado. I got snowed on whilst on the bike last July), but before too long the clouds broke and I found myself with bright sunny skies and beautiful vistas to take in. The fresh late spring dusting on the otherwise rotting snow made for an incredible view.

I made way higher and encountered a bit more snow but it wasn't all that bad. With the trail on the north side of the valley (south facing) it was largely free of any large snow banks. The melt water run off was quite massive though. Despite it being in the 30s, with no wind to speak of and bright bright 2+ mile high sun beating down i was cooking in a cool max shirt alone. Nearer to the pass I had to navigate some snow fields, i didn't think much of this aside from pondering the use of some crampons, but the snow was soft and i just pressed through.

Everyone has heard the story from some climber somewhere about "how fast the weather moved in"... I now have my own story to add to that. Within what seemed like 10 minutes it went from bright and sunny to dumping snow. "WHOA! Where'd that come from!?" Given that the storms that we'd been having for the few days prior had all be sans-lightning I was kind of in winter mode, where lightning doesn't happen, just lots of snow. Not more than a minute or so from the apex of the hike I hear a very low, soft, barely audible rumble. I stop to see if it's a jet or a rock fall. Nothing. I decide to not press any further till I was somewhat assured that I'd be okay.

About 60 seconds passes.

I begin getting this warm, fuzzy, tingly, electric feeling. While it was actually pretty cool I knew immediately what it was and hit the deck! Flash BANG! While it wasn't right on top of me i didn't need any reminder that I needed to get down NOW!!! Prescriptions to chill out to the max be damned, i was going to test my 12000 foot high vo2 max on this descent! I was likely over a mile above the nearest treeline protection. I proceeded to haul ass down hill as-fast-as-I-f*&%ing-could!!!! I surprised myself at the eye-foot coordination I exhibited as I covered the rocky, snowy, glaciated trail in a 4th of the time that it took me to ascend. As soon as I got down into the krumholtz i thought i could take a break. Huffing, pufffing, wheezing I realized that I'd lost one of my crampons somewhere along the trail in my scurry downhill. Just as I was pondering the thought of maaaaybe back tracking a little bit another flash and boom hits and I'm back up and running across the tundra in search of really big trees. Finally after 10-15 minutes of scamper and scramble and duck and weave I make my way into the forest. SMOKED! And in this case thankful it's figurative and not literal!

I slowly made my way back down to the car and by the time i'd arrived the snow had ceased and it was once again bright, sunny, warm, and, of course, awesome.

Live to love the mountains another day. Whew!
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Re: If life was boring you'd never have great stories to tell.

Postby DScott49 » Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:24 am

Hey Markyv,
Thanks for sharing your story. Had a similar one on Pike's Peak last year. When the hiking poles start to throw sparks and your hair is standing on end, it makes you look closely for a hole to crawl into, fast!

Dr. Dave
Dr. Dave

"Never measure the height of a mountain until you reach the top. Then you will see how low it was." Dag Hammarskjold
"Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So... get on your way." Dr. Seuss
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Re: If life was boring you'd never have great stories to tell.

Postby winglady » Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:38 am

Dave -- I hope you didn't literally mean to crawl into a hole -- not a good option in a lightening storm!

Charlie & I had a similar adventure in late September one time with snow and a faint hint of thunder. We ended up sprawled on the ground, feeling like something just turned off all the muscles and nerve impulses in our bodies just long enough for us to collapse. Once we were able to get on our feet again, we were moving down off that ridge at lightening speed, so to speak!

I used to be concerned when I heard thunder. Now I tend to be terrified!
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