In early spring of 2007 I decided to quit my job, sell my house along with nearly everything else that I owned, and to live out of my car while traveling the country. These are my stories (and pictures) of life on the road.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The high hard one

With the work week done for it was time to get out for some real outdoor time. I set my alarm to go off at 5:00 am and when it did I decided that was too early so I shut it off and slept for another 1 1/2 hours. When I finally did get up I grabbed some food and headed north to Scotchman's Peak for some hiking. By the time I found the trail head (those dirt Forest Roads can be confusing!) and finally hit the trail it was about 9:00 am. There was only one other car in the parking area and just as I was getting ready to start my climb another car pulled in. I talked to them briefly and they told me the hike was about 3.5 miles (which I already knew) but they also told me the elevation climb in that 3.5 miles was about 3500 feet with few switch backs (this I didn't know). I'm glad I ran into them because I wasn't expecting that steep of a grade and it was good to get into a different mind set before I started climbing. My GPS read an altitude of 3350 feet at the parking area and 6950 feet at the summit.

The first 3/4 mile was by far the worst. It was very steep with only one small switch back. After that it was still steep but with some more switch backs thrown in. It's the most exhausting hike I've ever been on and I was surprised how often I had to stop in the first mile to catch my breath. The hike started in a dense forest and about 1/2 way up there were some small meadows to walk through. Once I got about 3/4 of the way up it was getting rockier, the trees were starting to thin out, and I started running into snow! As I kept climbing I found their was actually quite a bit of snow left and at least waist deep in places. I decided to stop and make a snow angel since you don't very often get the chance to do that in June (at least not where I'm from). Thankfully the weather had been warm enough that the snow was packed pretty solid so it was easy to walk on without sinking in. Temperatures at the bottom of the mountain reached over 90 today but at the top it felt more like the 70's. It felt great when I reached the snow to just dump a bunch on my head to cool off.

I thought I'd reached the top of the mountain but when I looked to my right I saw I could continue farther along a ridge about another 1/2 mile or so and get to the real peak. As I climbed up over the last little bit to reach the summit I was surprised to be face to face with a mountain goat about 20 feet from me. He didn't seem concerned about me at all and just stared at me. Apparently some of them are quite tame and have figured out that people can be a fine food source. He didn't have any luck getting any food from me (I didn't even feel guilty eating my lunch in front of him) but that didn't keep him from hanging around and going after my back pack a couple times.

Needless to say the view at the top was incredible! It was an unobstructed 360 degree view with mountains as far as you could see. Looking out over the mountains into Montana was the best view to be had; I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it. Sometime I'd like to get back there to see the sunset....and the sunrise for that matter. Maybe I'll just have to hike up one evening and spend the night!

The hike back down was much faster then on the way up but I don't think it was any easier on my body. The steep downhill grade was pretty rough on the knees so I made a point of not having them locked when my feet hit the ground to give some more cushioning. This helped but gave my thighs a lot harder work out. It didn't help that the lower I got the hotter it got too. I was happy to get back in my car and kick on the air conditioning.

Although it was a pretty tiring hike and it was getting really hot towards the end it was well worth it and much more fun then sitting around the house all day.

That was enough of a work out for me for the day so I drove back to the house, ate some ice cream, made some dinner, and caught up on some things. Now I'll just wait to see what tomorrow brings.


debbieuu said...

I think in your case, instead of taking time to "smell the roses" it would be more appropriate to say you "took time to make a snow angel." Those are beautiful clouds!

Mark Frazer said...

My 3 year old loves the goat. I do too.

mejaka said...

Wow...I really need to hike Scotchmen's. Will it kill me, do you think?

You've reached the end of the page but that's not the end of the stories. If you want to read more (and who wouldn't!?) then click on the archive links to the right hand side of the page. They're listed by month; the adventure starts in May.

The February archives aren't actually from this trip but are previous adventures I've had, which are worth reading as well.