I'm not sure when or how I got in my head that I was going to do this hike yesterday. I think it might have happened when I was sitting on the deck of a winery Wednesday. Enjoying a delicious riesling, a beautiful view, and some spectacular fall weather. And doesn't everything seem like a great idea when that's where you dream it up?
Well I rolled out of bed Friday at the crack of 9:30AM and decided I had better get moving if I was going to make this happen. Again, I have no idea where my motivation for this came from. Under normal circumstances waking up at 9:30AM would have meant the coffee shop was calling. That's really to late to embark on an epic hiking adventure. Especially considering I was going this one alone because all my friends had this pesky thing called "work" to attend Friday.
But somehow I managed to get some oatmeal in me and get out the door. 13 miles and 3600' of elevation gain -- here I come.
Seriously, what was I thinking?
I was thinking that 13 miles is really no big deal. I have certainly been on 13 mile runs by myself. I just hiked three 14,000' foot peaks in two days. I'm definitely in shape for this. This silly little hike only tops out around 12,000' -- easy as pie. (Where did this phrase come from anyway....easy as pie....pie is actually really hard to make....I don't actually know how to make pie....and, I guess, in that way, this hike was, in fact, like pie.)
I would like to state, for the internet record, that I pretty much rocked the uphill portion of this hike. Why? Because I'm in such rockin' mountain girl shape? No, probably not. It was mostly because I am no mountain girl at all and am terrified that something in the woods thinks I look like a tasty little snack.
No lie. The entire hike I was obsessively paranoid about bears. And when I wasn't worried about bears, I was worried about mountain lions. Both of which are very much present in this particular wilderness so its not like these were completely unfounded fears. However, the bears around here are just black bears -- they're not even carnivores. And the mountain lions have plenty of pica and other little critters to eat so they likely want nothing to do with me. To my knowledge there have been no human - mountain lion interactions in this region. So why exactly did I think I was going to be the first?
So yes, its crazy. But when you are in the wilderness (and I'm not talking state park picnic table wilderness here) alone....you feel very much ALONE. And apparently for me, alone translates to vulnerable. Hence, thinking every little noise is something that wants to eat me for lunch.
I make it to the first basin, where I am finally above tree-line and feeling a little bit safer, (this way if something wants to eat me at least I'll see it coming) so I finally stop to take care of some basic needs. Peeing and eating. As I find a comfy rock on which to enjoy my Cliff bar I see two other people making their way up the other side of the basin to the ridge crossing. OMG I have never been so happy to see people. Even though they were well out of earshot it was such a comfort just to see other humans. They are the only other people I will see ALL DAY.
So I make it over the ridge and its all downhill from there. And this was THE MOST SUCKY PART. I know. That makes no sense. But the downhill was miserable. Mostly because it went on FOREVER and I just wanted to be done.
I really don't even have anything else exciting to say about this hike. The views were spectacular and I didn't even care. I lugged 15 pounds of camera equipment with me and took exactly 12 photos from one spot -- and I hate them all.
I don't know if my head wasn't in the right place for this hike, or if I'm just not a good solo backcountry hiker. Maybe a little of both. I'm still glad I did it. But only for the workout -- and really I would rather have gone on a 13 mile run -- without my camera. I won't be trying anything like that again anytime soon. I'd rather have friends to push my pace than fear and paranoia. And I guess amazing scenery just isn't as amazing without someone to share it with.