As it turns out, I almost bit of more than I could proverbially chew. But now that I’m back and safe, I couldn’t be more pleased.
So – it all went down like this: I drove to Nelson and hit the Pulpit Rock trailhead just after 10 a.m. The idea was to go up to the flagpole – total elevation of about 1000 metres. So that was good – very straightforward. Pulpit Rock is Nelson’s answer to the Grouse Grind in Vancouver or Mount Benson in Nanaimo or Prevost in Duncan. It’s a straightforward straight up hike.
After topping out at Pulpit Rock, which is where most people turn back, Abby and I pressed on for the flagpole. And this is where things got interesting. I’d been up twice before over the past years with Cathy and Nancy. But this time, on my own, I noticed a choice of trails: to the left was the one I had taken previously, marked “moderate.” The right hand trail was labeled black diamond – difficult. Hell, I thought, how tough can a black diamond be?
Answer: pretty tough, especially if you happen to lose the trail at some point and start bushwhacking not only through bush but straight up the rock face of the damn mountain. But you know how that goes: once you commit yourself to the climb, you can’t turn back. Hell no. I’m willing to scramble up a cliff with exposure but go back down? Not so much.
So we journeyed up and when I got to this massive intimidating cliff, I noticed that easiest scramble had the most exposure. This was my preferred route – but what about Abby? One slip and it could end up pretty awful. So, I took the slightly less exposed option but a trickier route up. I called her and proceeded. Got to the top and couldn’t see her anywhere. I called in my most encouraging and cajoling voice. I did NOT want her to go up the exposed section. Ha! When I looked around I found her above me. She’d trotted up that cliff face with all the danger without batting an eye.
Right – onwards. But where was the trail? Hell if I knew. There were no ribbons or markers and I wasn’t about to climb back down to double check my route. So, for the next twenty minutes, we just pressed on straight up over an ugly boulder field, two more cliffs and lastly through bush that redefined the term “bushwhacking.” And then, just as I thought we might be in a tad of trouble, the trail – there it was. We’d likely missed it by four or five feet. But we were back on it again, and in minutes reached the top.
As you can see from the flag photo – the view was – well – ah – imaginary to say the least.
But we’d done it with the happy knowledge that we didn’t have to go down the same way we’d come up. The moderate trail awaited. Interestingly, we came across several groups hiking up the moderate trail – not a soul took the black diamond. I wonder why?
All my fears of losing my hiking stamina in the two weeks or so I’ve been out of commission, fell away. I didn’t get out of breath once and my legs were as strong as ever. It was only on the way down that my back suffered a few twinges – but I took it slow and it all went well.
I’ve had my usual delightful after-hike reward of a hot bubble bath and have consequently discovered that our claw-foot tub offers a super bath.
So now I feel I’ve earned a lazy day. Simon has been working like mad, of course, but he says he has also discovered two more nearby trails, one of which we will attack tomorrow. Things are looking up!
If I didn’t know it before, it certainly is writ large now: if I want to be happy, I need to get out and I need to hike – I mean really hike, not just walk. Oh yes, I need other things in my life too, like independence and writing and love and beauty – but hiking – being out there – moving my body – pushing myself. This is as essential to me as air.