La Plata under the Moon and Stars…and Then Again Under the Sun

Arg!  What to say about La Plata!?  The first time was blissful…so I’ll start there.

My friend from Eldorado Canyon and I left camp near Mt. Elbert and headed over to La Plata, we were meeting a guy friend she made this summer.  When I got to the trailhead I was greeted by my “friend of a friend”, who was bearded and wore a plaid shirt.  He had a kind smile and a firm handshake.

We put up our tents and started a fire.  Campfire conversation quickly ensued along with a few magic card tricks from my new bearded acquaintance.  We were later joined by a solo hiker who was ditched by his buddy.  He seemed like the type of guy who could make conversation with just about anyone.  We all talked, laughed, and enjoyed the night for quite some time, but eventually the excitement died down.  However, as the night dwindled down I caught a second wind.

Restless and hopped up on caffeine, I decided to climb La Plata under the stars.  I wanted my new friends to be able to bond, and I felt bad for being a bit of a third wheel.  Not only that, it was a perfect night for a climb, the sky was clear and the weather forecast was great.  Initially, I decided I was going to sleep at treeline, but once I got there I just decided to keep going.  I never got tired or out of breath and my pace seemed perfect.  I was the only one out there, and there was no way to judge myself or get defeated based on progress (or lack there of)…because I couldn’t see how far I had to go. For most of the hike the bright stars above were my only company, and later as I reached the ridge line the moon also became my companion. I greeted it like an old friend, smiling and giddy!

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I made it to the summit just before the sun started rising.  It was windy and freezing cold, but I convinced myself to stay and watch the day begin.  I perched behind a gathering of rocks that served as a wind block, but soon that wasn’t enough.  I got up and paced up and down a section of the crest in an attempt to keep warm.  Finally, I was greeted by an orange glow on the horizon.

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I soaked in the view the best I could as I shivered and jumped around to stay warm.  Then I headed down, excited to cross paths with my friends.  But in my sleep deprived and disoriented state I completely screwed up!  I went down the south side, thinking things seemed different only because I was now passing them in the light of day.  But when things got far too unfamiliar, I realized I was a big fat dummy!  I had no choice but to come back up and summit again, as fast as I could.  I hoped I would catch my friends so they wouldn’t be worried, but I had just missed them by the time I got to the top.  I climbed back down with a group of people who all knew each other from a summer camp. They seemed like a real group of supportive people, as a whole they were tight-knit and patient with one another.  I could tell that their friendship had been solidified by something special, an experience of some kind that had bonded them like glue. Despite the fact that I felt like a total idiot, I was glad to meet them.  And if this summer adventure has taught me anything so far, it is that everything happens for a reason…even the shitty things!

Eventually, I got back in touch with my original climbing buddies and everything was fine…

Along my misstep, I captured a few shots of the other route.

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Lately my writing feels weak, tired, and uninspired.  It isn’t that I don’t have an amazing journey to tell about, but I think the effort of the journey is weighing on me ever so slightly.  My mind feels clouded despite the clarity that my trips have brought.  It’s a lot to process, but I hope that down the road these mindless blurbs will help me remember something very important about a very special time in my life.

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