Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thoughts While Ascending The Outbound Trail

Trail To Kaiser Peak 

Dale Matson

I am ascending a mountain trail. Where is the top? Is it just up there or is that just another false summit? I can see a hole in the trees. As I walk my heart pounds in my chest. It is not like running down below. This is much more noticeable. I need to pause from time to time to get a deep cleansing breath as I lean forward on my trekking poles. Someone approaches from up above. I gladly step off the trail to let him by. It is as much an excuse to rest as it is being polite. He says he’s from England. “This is a heck of a lot higher than Ben Nevis” I say and he nods his head.

I take a long drink from my water bottle. I gasp for breath again. It was too long without breathing. A bead of sweat mixed with Deet drips from my forehead into my eye. It begins to burn. I squirt water into my eye from my water bottle and wipe it with my towel hanging from my pack.

There is a distant sound like someone blowing rapidly into a Coke bottle. It is a Partridge drumming on a log. There is a stone in my shoe. It has been there awhile, sometimes painful, sometimes not but I need to find a sitting rock and take my shoe off. There’s a good rock that is the right height to support my pack too but it’s too far off the trail. Maybe I’ll find one on the next switchback. I need a rest again too.

I hear a conversation. Is it above or below me? It’s below me. People are catching up and will soon pass. Dang! This never happened in the old days. I think to myself as they pass, “I could be their grandfather.” It’s time for another drink. Well, that’s almost the last of my water. I need resupply the next time I come to a source.

Man, this climb is never ending! I can’t take any more caffeinated energy gels till I have lots more water. Oh, I’ll just shorten my stride and get into my marching mode to conserve energy. There goes my hope for a two miles an hour pace for this climb. Did I put my car key in my Velcro or my zip pocket? Man, I wouldn't want to do this climb in the afternoon.

Oops, I almost tripped on that root stub. Where did it come from? I then scold myself for looking at the altimeter too much on my watch. I pause again to take another cleansing breath. Just as I think I am on the last switchback and I can see the peak ahead of me, the trail takes a hard left and climbs in another direction.

Finally, I see people sitting just above me. The view is beginning to open up.  I wonder where those folks are from. I’ll ask them when I find a place to sit and admire the view.

View East From Kaiser Peak With Banner Peak       

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