| Where Little Things Reign - A Sublime Adventure in Indian Peaks
Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever... it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.
- Aaron Siskind, photographer and national treasure.
Where Little Things Reign - A Sublime Adventure in Indian Peaks
Summit Name / Elevation: Shoshoni Peak / 12,956 ft.
Trailhead Name / Elevation: Long Lake / 10,515 ft.
Mileage: approx. 9 miles
Start time: approx. 5 AM
Finish: approx. 2 PM
Captions on top of photos.
The full moon casts its silvery net across a quiet parking lot. A big truck and a Subaru wagon sit cold, camoflauged in deep shadow. I stand in silence - my warm Jeep crackles and pops as cold mountain air fills its boiling recesses. The moon dashes for the western horizon, the sun in clumsy pursuit. I turn on my headlamp as the sun and moon play hide and seek. They seem unbothered by my abrupt appearance. With a smile, I walk towards the grey trail.
Day light flows across the land like flood waters. Niwot Ridge, Navajo Peak, and Arapaho Peak appear.
The darkness is carried away.
In the distance I hear "Kimo...Kimo". My friend Sen has arrived just in time to see alpenglow wash over Niwot Ridge.
An alpine daisy returns my smile.
The water brings life.
Sen celebrates the little things.
Our goal for the day is ambitious - Navajo Peak - but we take our time getting to Lake Isabelle. It is now 7 AM. The little things have provided a worthy distraction. We discuss our doubts. From left to right, rugged Niwot Ridge, Navajo Peak's summit cone, the broad shoulder of Apache Peak, and the towering east face of Shoshoni Peak frame Lake Isabelle.
The shore of Lake Isabelle is graced with beautiful wildflowers.
It's now almost 8 AM. Clouds start to form. We stand beneath the cliffs of Shoshoni Peak and discuss our options. Navajo Peak seems so far away. The choice comes easy. We make an attempt on Shoshoni Peak.
Our route would be a longer derivative of the east ledges route published by Kane on Summitpost. Kane's route starts high on the Pawnee Pass trail. We were starting lower, from Lake Isabelle. There was no trail so we tread lightly. Very lightly.
The rock was amazing - bomber granite connected by ascending ramps and ledges. We identify a good entry point.
Sen scrambles up the first section.
Boulders and slabs reach high above us.
Beautiful wildflowers seemed to fill every crack and crevice.
We continue up the slabs.
The towering east face of Shoshoni Peak fills our periphery.
And the flowers smile on.
We turn and scramble up a steep wall on our right.
My arm brushes against a beautiful Indian Paintbrush
Soon, we're at the next ramp. We use it to access the slabs on the right.
Sen climbs the final section of steep slab.
From here, we climb on talus to the summit. We have a thousand feet of elevation to go.
We head for the weakness in the slope (seen above Sen).
Point 12860 fills the view to our right.
The slope angle doesn't relent. In fact, I think it just got steeper.
We arrive at the summit block of Shoshoni Peak.
Sen scrambles up the last few feet.
The view from the top is extraordinary.
From left to right, North Arapaho Peak, Navajo Peak, and Apache Peak. The Navajo Snowfield, Apache Couloir, and Queens Way Couloir are visible here.
Two climbers ascend the Navajo Snowfield (climbers are near center of photo).
Isabelle Glacier and the Queens Way Couloir reach up for the summit of Apache Peak.
North Arapaho Peak towers above Airplane Gully. The wreckage of a crashed aircraft is visible in the right arm of the gully.
Along the ridge, from front to back, are Point 12860, Pawnee Peak, Mount Toll, and Pauite Peak (tallest of the four). In the distance is the south face of Longs Peak.
Clouds begin to thicken overhead. We head down from the summit towards the Pawnee Pass trail.
As we approach the Pawnee Pass trail, we turn to review our route. We came up the ledges at the lower left of the photo. We continued up the talus-filled gully to the summit (the summit is the little knob near the top right of the photo).
An interesting cloud forms over the rugged east ridge of Pawnee Peak.
We continue down the well-traveled Pawnee Pass trail. To our south are the impressive Niwot Ridge and Navajo Peak.
The Pawnee Pass trail is lined with beautiful wildflowers.
It's all about the little things.
As we approach Lake Isabelle, we turn and give thanks to Shoshoni Peak for safe passage.
Good bye beautiful Columbine. Good bye.
Where there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.
- the great Dorothea Lange