Monday, February 28, 2011

Some win and some lose. I won.... Twice.

Yesterday my friend DB and I took a rather eventful hike, eventful meaning unexpectedly life threatening! The weather was beautiful and was a sure sign that spring is approaching; the sun was shining, birds were chirping, and streams swelled from snow melt. We moved at a fast pace for reasons unknown, we credit hiking in winter for improving our hiking speed, and quickly reached the top of Storm King Mountain.

From there we walked along a ridge and down into a deep valley. DB and I decided to stop at the bottom of the valley so we would have the energy to hike out in time. There we had lunch and relaxed for awhile near where a few streams converged. It was very nice.

After that we began hiking back up the mountain we came down and stopped to check out a rock face that DB wanted to see is climbable come warm weather. DB is a rock climber first and a hiker second but still one of my favorite people to hike with. While getting ready to head back to the trail I pointed out a rock face that was near vertical but looked scramble-able. (No that is not a real word…) After consulting the map and seeing that we would link up with the trail at the top of the ridge we decided that we’d be stupid and head off trail to climb rocks that we could have very easily fallen from. It sounds even dumber when I type it. Luckily all was fine and it was pretty damn cool…

DB making his way up the rock scramble

At the top of the ridge I stopped to take some pictures before moving on. They came out pretty well.
View of Butter Hill from the ridge
Once I was done taking pictures we set off for the last leg of the hike back to DB’s car. This is wear it gets bad. The trail ran around the mountain halfway to the top and gradually declined. The first half of was covered in wet snow but fine. As we advanced it became icier and icier until we got to a point where a frozen water fall cascaded down from the top of the mountain, over the trail, and then down the mountain a bit. Having no way around, we climbed the snow next to a point where there was uncovered rocks where we would could do a controlled slide to a part where there was a tree branch and rocks to grab and then shimmy back onto the trail. DB slid first and after slow careful work made it off fine. I sat on the ice and slowly slid on my butt down to the uncovered rocks and tree branch. Everything was fine until the branch snapped. I began sliding at high rate until my torso spun and the sliding stopped. Some how I managed to grab onto another branch wit my left hand in a blind adrenaline rush. I laid there on my back holding the branch, looked at DB, and laughed out of sheer excitement and lack of words. I slowly shimmied back on the trail and we continued on.

The trail from that point on was incredibly narrow and at times the ice forced us to walk on the edge. It went from a hike to a slow cautious walk that involved cutting down snowy gullies, treading lightly on sheets of ice, and crossing a frozen bridge. All this on a mountainside. I am sorry to say I have no pictures of the ice over and numerous frozen waterfalls on the trail. DB and I were way too involved with guiding each other and negotiating the frozen trail safely. When the trail became slightly more level I began saying how the near slide down the mountain was the climax of my day. As soon as I finished speaking I realized I spoke to soon. The ice beneath my foot gave out causing me to fall on my side and begin sliding down the mountain feet first. Problem: there was nothing to stop me. It was a straight shot for around 25 feet into some trees and deadwood. Suddenly the slide stopped almost instantly. Again, I laid there for a second so the adrenaline high would stop and realized I somehow I managed to hook my arm in a frozen footprint. I, again, managed to cheat injury or worse.

Soon after we were off that trail and near the car. I felt no pain and couldn’t get my mind off the events on that trail. The adrenaline high was powerful and I kept spontaneously giggling and shaking my head at our stupidity, our luck, the excitement of the situations. We got back to the car, unloaded some gear, took a picture, and went home. I left that day unscathed, tweaking on adrenaline, and seeing every aspect of life better than I did before. 

Well almost unscathed

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