Tales from the Trail: No Time Like Go Time

“That night sucked.  That night absolutely sucked” I thought as my eyes opened again.  I had only slept another hour since I last woke up, and the sun was up enough to illuminate everything around me in a cold grey.

I was hesitant to leave my tent.  It was bright enough around my camp, but the treeline before my camp still loomed ominously, threatening to swallow my tent.  I opted to wait around a little while before getting out, despite my urgent need to pee.  I shuffled around and played with my GPS for a while, when I heard sticks break yet again.

In a small clearing outside my tent, I saw a deer stand up and move around.  Is that the same deer from last night?  Did it stay here all night?  I watched it for a while, and noticed a fawn meandering around the larger deer.  They grazed for a while and eventually disappeared into the trees.

I felt ridiculous for hiding in my tent and got out.  I grabbed my filter and water bladders and made my way to the stream.  I figured I might as well filter water before I left so I didn’t have to do it when I got back.  I took all the gear out of my pack and picked a few items to take with me.  I went through the chore of making a packet of Ramen for breakfast.  I threw my trash in my food bag and flung it back over a tree branch.  In it, I left something I’d need later that day.

It was 8:00 AM, much later than I planned on leaving.  I had to get going.

I shuffled down the hill back to the trail passing a dry pond.  The morning was filled with a cool breeze.  I was just wearing a cotton Godzilla t-shirt (my synthetic shirt was another item I forgot to bring) and gloves.  For a brief moment my skin went numb, but as I continued to move I warmed up.

The trail was relatively loaded with groups of friends/family either heading to or heading from King’s Peak.  Sometimes we ignored each other, sometimes we exchanged small conversation, and at one point a group of teenagers stopped to yell “YEEAH GODZILLA” at me.  Great. I then overheard them saying “Man I can’t believe we did all that in an hour”.  That can’t be right, can it?  The hike to Kings Peak wasn’t exactly a short stroll, and that’s ignoring the actual climb itself.  Don’t listen to hikers, guys.

I hiked on and off with one couple in particular.  We talked about where we were from and how we were enjoying the trail.  At that point I was a bit winded, and realized I had gone from maybe a couple hundred feet of elevation from home to 9,000ft within a very short timespan.  The difference was noticeable, but wasn’t exactly detrimental.  I noted that and they agreed, being from Florida.  They pushed on and I caught my breath, we were heading up to the first pass of the day.

At the base of Gunsight Pass I left the couple behind and push my way up.  I was feeling much better at this point, all the uphill in the morning was a good warmup for the first ascent of the day.  I made my way up the talus with high spirits.

And before I knew it, I was standing on top looking at another basin hiding behind the mountains.

I would have stayed up there longer, but the wind was blowing me around a bit, so I made my way down.  Along the way I kept getting distracted by the rocks.  The rocks here were so cool!  There was so much history being told here, and I was getting seriously held up by it.

Once I got to the bottom, I kind of realized what kind of day I’d be having.  I had to walk across a good chunk of this basin, skirting the mountains, and make my way up another pass.  I was out of my mind with excitement.

Time went by pretty fast, and before I knew it I was at the next pass.  As I made my way up, Kings Peak announced its presence with booming intimidation.  I felt like it reached a hand out and casually flattened me to the ground.  I just now had a good sense of scale for it.  It’s not like I was climbing K2 or anything, but still, I felt a little humbled.

The climb up the second pass was a pain in the ass.  Plain and simple, it wore me out.  I wasn’t crawling over talus, there was a nice footpath the whole way, but it just didn’t end!  My pace slowed down noticeably, and I started to drink more water.

For the first time since my first backpacking trip as a kid, I started to feel a little miserable.  For years I was able to just hike casually, not too phased by uphills, downhills, or miles.  By the time I hit the middle of Anderson Pass, I was just done.  I glared at the trail.  It was winding up, up, up, around my head, through my ears, mocking me.  But I kept pushing myself forward in hopes that it would end.  Eventually I got a break.

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I got to this nice flat area with plenty of boulders to sit on.  I walked half-way through it and eventually decided to take a break here.  I threw my pack off, plopped on the ground, and kind of slid off the rock I originally aimed for.  Okay, I guess I’ll sit in the dirt.  People pushed on past me, some of them running past, rubbing my exhaustion in my face.  Thanks, jerks.

Then something hit me, I was hungry.  Like, really hungry.  I didn’t eat much on the drive here, a small burger and a wrap with a stick of jerky somewhere in the mix.  The only thing I had eaten all day was ramen.  I’ve never really felt full on ramen, it mostly makes me nauseous enough to forget that I’m hungry.  Once that wears off..

I dig through my pack for a snack.

Well… Fuck it all, I didn’t bring food.  I thought about my food bag hanging on a branch, innocently swaying in the breeze with all my snacks.  Ugh.

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