Today we went with Plan C. Plan A – hike to the top of Red Mountain. But Simon stayed up very late writing (exciting to see him so into his book again) and looked totally done in when he came down for breakfast. I suggested Plan B, which was dropping me off at the trailhead and him going back to bed (or at least to the couch). Simon suggested Plan C. He would drop me off and then come back at about 2 p.m. and begin hiking up the trail until we met up – assuming I would be on my way down by then.
And so he dropped me off at 9 and up I went after determining that it was too cold for dogs. Abby was down two seconds after setting out. Her paws couldn’t handle it. I should state right here that the cold was a major factor all day. The high was predicted at about minus 9. Where I went, I think I hit minus 20 and maybe lower with the wind chill – yes, it was windy near the top.
I was cold from the minute I got out of the truck. Simon slipped warmers into each of my mitts. They helped for a couple of hours. But right now, three hours after getting home, the tips of my fingers still hurt.
I was wrapped up in several layers and my core stayed warm – fingers and toes, not so much. But I was determined to reach the top. However, I had no idea how far it was. As I slogged on, past the viewpoint where Simon and I had stopped last time, I just kept going and after about an hour, determined that I would have to set a turnaround time – between 12.30 and 1.
On I went. The switchbacks were unending and the trail continued to get steeper. Meanwhile the snow reached incredible depths. Did I mention that I was breaking trail the entire way?
The weather finally made me call it. Namely, my feet were becoming blocks of ice. And when I got into the sub-alpine, I got a really good view of my destination, which was at least one or more likely two hours away. As the snow got deeper, breaking trail made my steps slower and slower – yup – likely another two hours.
So, almost 4 hours after setting out, I turned. The only sun I managed to find was back down at the viewpoint. I stood smack dab in the middle of the rays and ate my sandwich – which had frozen pretty solid in my pack. The water in my bladder was frozen. My new Christmas thermos, thank goddess, had water and it was still warmish.
I actually only ate half my sandwich – and for two very good reasons. One – frozen cukes are not very tasty and two – the less time I had to stand still, the better.
After that I barreled down and met Simon about 45 minutes later. He’d set out about half an hour earlier than promised – because, he said, he loved me and was worried about me.
No wonder I love this man.
Oh – and the house was toasty warm when we got back! More reason to love him!
And I had a hot bath and ate chocolate.
I’ve got to say though, I have to pick my times better for spending five or six hours on the trail – this kind of cold is pretty bad. I also have to give some deep thought to approaching Red Mountain again in the near future. Have to allot at least 6 hours to the top. Whew!