| Against the Decalibrons Wind: Rocks in my Backpack
This is my 2nd Trip Report; I hope you will forgive me for the descriptively strong emotion I displayed within the bottom portion of this essay.
I took 17 days off work to celebrate my mother's retirement in the Big Island of Hawai'i with my brother. It was still the height of the tourist season yet there were few tourists other than Japanese and German visitors; we figured the economy must be in a really bad shape nationwide. We spent little, but still had fun exploring the island. On our way back to the mainland, a television set slipped out of its bay from atop the plane's ceiling and dangled on a single screw. The flight attendants couldn't fix the problem and the flight had to be redirected to Honolulu for repairs. For a brief moment, we sat quietly with nervous jitter. We eventually made it back to San Francisco after a 1 ˝ hour delay. It was a good thing because I had a connection flight to Denver that Wednesday, August 13th.
I picked up a car rental and headed for Home in Vail; I slept well, but was indecisive when morning came. I couldn't decide whether I should finish climbing the Decalibrons or re-tackle the elusive Mt. Oxford through the Belford summit. The sky looked threatening as the minutes ticked away and I didn't want to be disappointed again by the Oxford-Belford group so I drove to Kite Lake. I started my climb up towards the Democrat-Cameron ridge at 9:55 am. It was late and I was the last climber to leave the fee-based parking facility.
Before I reached the Saddle, several people had started their descent. They warned that the wind was extremely high up there – in excess of 30 mph! I'm only 5'3" and my weight on that morning was 118 lbs. Concerned that I might be blown off an exposure point, I paused and began stuffing my backpack with about 20 lbs. of rocks. It was heavy but I took it slow and steady. Near the Democrat-Cameron Saddle, a strong gust of wind blew with the force of an angry storm. One bearded hiker on his way up Mount Cameron (14,238 ft.) shook his head in disbelief and decided to descend. He nearly tipped over as he stepped aside to let me pass by; I had hoped he would continue his climb so I wouldn't feel alone up there in the thin mountain air. I looked up toward the summit of Mount Democrat (14,148 ft.) and saw 5 climbers lingering near the clouds and recalled last year's climb up that peak with my friend, Alex.
The high wind came and went, and with it, the periodic hail storms. They moved too quickly to affect my decision to continue on with the climb. Before I became tired, I stood atop Mount Cameron and snapped a picture of myself with the summit of Mount Lincoln in the background.
It didn't take long for me to reach Mount Lincoln (14,286 ft.). The trail was well defined and unobstructed. I sat on the summit having lunch at 12:25 pm. I signed the registrar and took some more photos. Looking back at Mount Cameron, I was happy to see that two climbers had followed me, but they did not come to Lincoln. I could almost read their thoughts from afar as one of them pointed to the approaching mass of gray clouds. They soon turned and got off the gentle summit.
I felt distracted atop Lincoln. From the high vantage point, I could see a parked SUV nearly midway between the Bross-Cameron ridge. Its presence made it look as if someone in the vehicle was spying on me with binoculars. Someone had violated my environment and peace of mind by leaving this man-made machine in the most unlikely place. It sat there like a sphinx guarding the trail to reinforce the posted sign with the message: "No Public Access To Mount Bross. Trail Closed." At 12:43 pm, I left the summit and approached the mechanical beast with mental annoyance. There was no one inside; still, its presence raped my view of the Tenmile-Mosquito Range.
With new found energy from deep within, I marched myself up to the top of Mount Bross – violating the posted sign in the same fashion that the SUV had violated my peace of mind. I did not allow myself to feel guilty. A badly placed machine had trespassed into the realm of my Sanity. I had to return the favor. I did not regain the peace of mind I sought by coming here until I saw the tiered waterfalls, the colorful flowers, the flowing stream, and – above me – the bluing of the sky.
KNIGHT, Aspen Summit