| Discovering the Quandary Dog on the East Ridge
After a questionable start to the weekend, it ended up turning out terrifically. I headed up to Breckenridge on Saturday at about noon. I decided to stop at the Bakersville Road, and hiked up a bit. For anyone wondering, the road is really well packed, I did not have any need for snow shoes for the section I went up. At about 10500ft the snow really picked up, and at 11,000ft visibility really plummeted. Since I was alone I decided not to keep going to the trailhead even though I knew it was really close, and headed down.
The snow calmed down as I passed the 2 cabins along the road so I tried to take some photos of Torrey's at the road junction, but it was pretty well socked in.
I got to the car at about 4pm, and drove the rest of the way to the Quandary trailhead (with a few food stops along the way… food is good). At about 8:30pm, I heard a knock on my window, and a nice man asked if I had seen his yellow Labrador Retriever. I had not up to that point heard about Horton the Quandary Dog, so I was somewhat shocked, and I think I stared at him for about 30 seconds before responding. I let him know if I saw his dog the next day, I would try to catch it and bring it back down… but I was somewhat doubtful that I would run across a random dog. At about 915 my conscience got the better of me and I wandered up CR851. When I saw dog tracks I started whistling, but it was very cold, so after a while I headed back to the car. I then proceeded to worry about the dog.
It was a cold night, that is all I will say about that.
Jesse and Jessica arrived promptly at 730am, and we hit the trail at about 745ish with our snowshoes strapped to our packs. See, I knew that the road was packed since I had wandered up it the night before in my tennis shoes. I of course told Jesse about the dog, and the strange encounter the night before. He then mentioned the Quandary dog, but I just wasn't sure, the guy seemed really worried the night before. Anyway, as we headed up we come across a camp with 3 skiers, and who else is there… the dog. I was very relieved to see that my failure to find him the night before had not led to his demise, and we kept on trucking.
We were able to make it to treeline before putting our snowshoes on, and got a great view of the trail ahead. There was a very well defined trail in the snow up to the ridge, where the wind picked up, and it took on that trudging quaility we all love so much!
Jessica didn't feel the hottest so she and Jesse called it at about 13200ft. After talking about it for a bit I decided since there were so many people on the mountain that it would be safe for me to continue on, and Jesse and Jessica could make it back down. They are great to hike with, so I was sad to see them headed down.
Normally I think I would have headed down with them but I had a somewhat more driving force pushing me on. My Tattoo artist for the last 5 years, and simultaneously someone I had gotten to know well, had died the Wednesday before. Lee Ball was an amazing human being, and a brilliant artist. I think anyone who has had the same tattoo artist for a long time, and has gotten a ton of work done will understand. Your tattoo artist is more than just another person who passes through your life. They place a piece of themselves upon you, and you take that with you forever. With Lee it was even more so, as every piece he did was completely custom, there were never any transfer sheets involved. My wife and I had spent over 8 hours the previous weekend with Lee getting out tattoos worked on. We had gotten to know Lee well enough over the years that all 3 of us talked about everything. It wasn't like having a stranger tattoo you; it was like having a friend impart their vision of beauty on your skin.
Anyway, the last thing we talked about was how amazing life is, and how you have to live, and enjoy life no matter what might await you in the future. After we got the very upset call from a friend on Wednesday informing us that Lee had passed, I spent the rest of the week trying to figure out how I could best memorialize him, and bring some closure to that situation. The best way I knew how was to treat this day in the same spirit that had our last time spent with him ended in, to live, to make every effort to be part of this phenomenal universe we all share.
So with this in my head, I pushed on and thought to myself, really it would be awesome to get a photo on the summit with some of the art he left me with showing. Unfortunately, this would mean going shirtless on the summit for long enough to get the photo. It was sunny, but it was not warm at all. I hit the summit at about 1250ish, and the skiers with Horton were nice enough to take the photo for me. Anyway, it was a fitting tribute to Lee's memory I think!
Horton looked hungry, so I shared by Turkey Jerky with him, which I think he enjoyed, took a photo of a solo climber and some people heading up to the summit, and headed down.
My Spot track says I left the summit at about 1:05pm, and I made it to the car by 2:30pm, the snow was perfect for plunge stepping. I stopped to take photos of the skier/snowboarder with Horton chasing behind them, and got a quick snapshot of myself before finishing the day.
Now it's off to Orizaba!
This one was for you Lee, Rest in peace.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):