10.15.2007

Thoughts on The Great Traverse (See previous post)

(Note: This blog started getting spammed by a company called nzsearchengine.com, so I had to turn off allowing 'anonymous' commenting. You have to have a Blogger account to post a comment now.)

And for your viewing pleasure, the photo at right: "Morning in Danville: Views From My Driveway In My 3-Stooges Pajamas, Part 1".

From tMail:
Going into this I knew it would be very long day. Getting up at 4am driving up to Gorham from Boston hiking 18+ miles then driving home.

Right out of the gate Wildcat bites you in the ass...tough climb you just bite your teeth and push up. What I remember next is looking down to Carter Hut and making the descent slow...and then reaching the hut for a little break. The Hut curse hit me again...I didn't come out of the hut feet blazing...the Carter Dome climb was tough for me it took me a while to get going again, similiar to the first time I went up South Twin out of Garfield hut. After Carter Dome I got my second wind and felt good for the rest of the hike. I was looking forward to the night hiking and we did alot of it. I really enjoyed it, it is what I remember most about the hike. The climb up to Moriah seemed endless as well as the descent down into Gorham. I think at this time of year almost mid October with good weather big hikes like this can be done, but something like a frost over the night can really slow things down and change times significantly. The Mountains are a cool place every hike has it's own story...this is one of those hikes when you kind of say "Shit" that was a big day...

From mutha:
The view from Mt. Hight was tremendous. The ice on the trees shone in the sun like diamonds and the blazing foliage in the valley stretched out like a colorful blanket across the mountains. We had to deal with ice on the trail for anything above, say, 3,000ft - and ice in the trees that melted and fell from above when we grabbed out for support on the steep descents (which was much of the time). The ice was small, like sleet, not dangerous.

There were a few really profound visual memories with me as well.

  • We took a side trip to the Imp Shelter so I could say 'hi' to a student of mine who was camping with a school group. Evening twilight was coming on (less than an hour before we needed headlamps) and the dim, damp, mossy forest was dark green and grey and the air was getting very cold.
  • The ascent up Moriah did take a long time - 1.3 miles from the Imp trail junction, but we got disoriented in the crazy world of headlamp hiking and because it was starting to rain (and transitioning to snowing) and felt that we were up to 2mi without seeing the summit. We had to cross open rock faces with trail turns and false cairns which also lead to an odd sense of the high probability of getting off course.
  • The 4.5 mile descent from Moriah in the dark involved what seemed like endless butt-sliding down icy, wet, and just plain slippery open slabs of rock. It was really the 2 miles to Mt. Surprise that was the hardest. It was a weird ongoing pattern of trying to walk, having our feet slip out, and trying to sit fast and control the slipping. In the morning I found that my shell-pants, gloves and pack were covered in mud.
  • The 2.5 miles from Mt. Surprise was pretty fast, but with the headlamps we had the weird experience of staring unblinking into a patch of light that illuminated the fresh fallen leaf-litter - a highly technicolor patchwork of yellows, reds and browns that streamed by like watching M&Ms or something on a conveyor belt. It became both hypnotic, tiring and just plain difficult because the thick bed of leaves hid roots and stones and we were moving fast.
  • Lastly, Sue and I have an agreement that she is to wait 3 hours after the time I say we'll be down, and then call the local/state police and ask them to cruise by the trailhead to see if the car is still there. This was the first time she had to do it, and she did it. I had told her 5-6pm. At 9pm she made the call. We drove into Gorham so I could phone her (and so she could call Dao) and the local cops pulled in just after we hung up. The cop was pretty nice about it, mostly because there was no issue and also because it was clear we had a 'protocol' and were just being safe. It's amazing how relieved law-enforcement folks are when they don't have to deal with rednecks with guns and booze.
13 hours. What a day. To quote tMail: "epic!".

7 comments:

  1. I feel like a Zombie today...

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  2. Ha! Me too. My feet/legs/etc. aren't bothering me but in an hour or so I'm taking the dogs out and you couldn't motivate me to run for anything. Class this morning was good, but it was like climbing Carter Dome from the notch. Head down, one foot in front of the other... [ding!] there's the bell - don't forget your homework - i'm outta here.

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  3. Here is the Tmail Summary:

    Going into this I knew it would be very long day. Getting up at 4am driving up to Gorham from Boston hiking 18+ miles then driving home.

    Right out of the gate Wildcat bites you in the ass...tough climb you just bite your teeth and push up. What I remember next is looking down to Carter Hut and making the descent slow...and then reaching the hut for a little break. The Hut curse hit me again...I didn't come out of the hut feet blazing...the Carter Dome climb was tough for me it took me a while to get going again, similiar to the first time I went up South Twin out of Garfield hut. After Carter Dome I got my second wind and felt good for the rest of the hike. I was looking forward to the night hiking and we did alot of it. I really enjoyed it, it is what I remember most about the hike. The climb up to Moriah seemed endless as well as the descent down into Gorham. I think at this time of year almost mid October with good weather big hikes like this can be done, but something like a frost over the night can really slow things down and change times significantly. The Mountains are a cool place every hike has it's own story...this is one of those hikes when you kind of say "Shit" that was a big day...

    ReplyDelete
  4. One topic that does come to mind...I like night hiking but there is also that uneasy feeling of getting lost. I think when night hiking there is added stress and more concentration is required for "trail finding". What must be so obvious in the light seems complex at night. I remember at one point it seemed like the trail just stopped but behind a big tree and a sharp right the trail was right there.

    The other thing, there is more of a possiblity of getting lost at night being on open faces etc...etc, I don't care about getting lost I will spend a night under the stars and take the extra time to backtrack find trail take a map out etc etc...the thing is you do have people waiting to hear from you via phone knowing you are okay which at times can make it stressful. MZ and Sue have a good plan, I hate giving Dao time I just think that makes me start watch looking I hate that. MZ said it best in the car if he received a call from Dao he would say Dao don't worry he will be fine and give him another 4 hours. Tough thing to do for parents or loved ones to wait but I don't know if there is an easy plan. Dao did the right thing she called Amy and MPM said that they are fine probably take a little longer than normal or something to that point. When I talked to Dao she said she wasn't worried because of what MPM said which I thought was cool...

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  5. Well said. Sue and I talked about it a lot over the last few years, and her take on it is that she's not worried that we may be late or have to spend the night - she's worried that somebody might be hurt and that spending the night could be deadly and that she wants us to be able to count on her to make the call.

    Regrettably, I hadn't given her either the PM's or MD's phone number - either of whom would've said what the PM said to Dao.

    I don't have a good answer, partly because I can think of worse ways to die, but she'd be the one to have to deal with it. Also, it's not obvious that anyone could've found us. We were in a very inaccessible spot. And they never found Fossett either - and that was one prepared dude.

    Dunno. One of these days I'll come up with a better protocol.

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  6. Well, at least you stayed on trail this time... ha!

    Great pics and great comments. The protocol you both had set worked and that is what is important.

    If you think about it, the worst thing that could have happened is that you were abducted by Berlin rednecks and treated to a Deliverance-like love fest high on a 4K footer...

    Seriously, the fact that both of your better halves did what you told them to do is great! If I really thought you guys were in trouble I would have sounded the alarm and it is not like your path was unknown - you would have had help to you in a matter of hours, not days!

    I agree 100% with the night hiking comment that Tmail made. It definitely does take more concentration, it is easier to get fooled by the trail, second guess your path, etc. Add in some cold, wet weather and you start rolling the dice and playing the "could I get down to a warmer spot if I had to" game in your head...

    In general I feel we all set up good protocols, leave a detailed hiking itinerary with key people, have each other's phone #'s for the wives, etc. I also feel that we all have a pretty good sense of judegment and certainly a good pile of gear and experince to get us through any shit. All of these things combined make us a pretty safe group (yet we are still mortal men, make mistakes, and sometimes think with our dicks instead of our heads.)

    I'll shut up because I just found myself asking myself "When the fuck did I become such a rationalizing preacher?" Answer - 20mins ago when I started to read this blog!

    ReplyDelete