When I am out on the road, up on a peak, taking photographs, or just doing something that calls for being present…that’s when I am happiest. Not always the kind of giddy happy that is often associated with happiness, but more just…I don’t know…like I feel right, I feel real, honest, like I’m not doing a dance or trying to come across in any certain way…like I am acting with purpose and proper motivation. That’s when I stop thinking about the past or the future…that’s when I am 100% in the moment. No pipe dreams, no empty promises, no bullshit. That’s when I feel like I’m in a whole different world, I can’t explain it very well…but it’s different than the “regular” world where I’m expected to be. It’s where I am absolutely supposed to be though.
I’m eight peaks into the year, counting Cameron…but then…why wouldn’t I count Cameron. The way 14ers are ranked, all the rules, all the technicalities…all of that shit is dumb! Yesterday, I did the Decalibron Loop: Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross. The snow was pretty decent…definitely a good amount of slides in the area…but nowhere really close to where I hiked. I never put on the snowshoes that my sister let me borrow, but I did bring them the whole way on my back. Coulda used them on a few short stretches, but it was easier just to muscle through, rather than taking the time to stop and put snowshoes on and then stop again to take them off and then secure them back on my pack. I had my ice axe for the first time. I didn’t necessarily have the extra money for it…but I am glad I have it! Worth it! Took my trail shoes back for the cash. I can run in basketball shoes on the days I run, I’ve been doing it this long so I see no need for any fancy pants crap, and who really needs pinky toenails anyway? Maybe black and blue suits my toenail color best.
The afternoon before I hiked, I met a cyclist looking to get up the Decalibron Loop. He told me he hadn’t ever been up a 14er. I asked him if he wanted to borrow my extra spikes, but then he told me he was going to try hiking in sandals. He seemed serious. They weren’t good sandals…they were flip flops. I told him he should probably wear his sneakers, at least. Maybe it was a joke and I didn’t get it, but I don’t think so. People do lots of crazy things. The morning of my hike we passed each other as I came down Democrat and as he made his way to the summit. He was wearing his tennis shoes and he told me that this one peak was enough for him. I congratulated him on his first summit, he thanked me.
The hardest part of the loop is the segment between Democrat and Cameron, in my opinion. When I did it last year that section seemed to go on forever, it’s not technical or anything…none of the loop is, really…except maybe the descent off of Bross…but there’s technical and then there is actually technical…and the loop isn’t actually technical in any way, I don’t think. This year the piece between Cameron and Democrat seemed pretty easy…still a climb for sure, but I feel like all those treks up the incline and all those runs in Aiken Canyon this winter and spring paid off.
I caught up with the hiker ahead of me, as he rested on Lincoln. Normally I don’t get too in depth in conversation with people when I hike, but this guy was pretty decent at keeping a conversation going. He had his dog with him and she was quite tired. A married couple caught up to us on the summit, and it seemed like a good time to dip out on the conversation with the dog hiker. Not that I wasn’t happy to chat a bit, but I like to kinda get going and not hang around too long, in this case particularly, because I still had another peak to climb and I wasn’t sure how crappy that descent off of Bross was going to be between deep posthole prone snow and all the scree. The forecast said it was going to be partially cloudy all day, but no t-storms. However, as I trekked toward my last peak I heard a big grumble of thunder and the clouds started to roll in. The sunlight played hide and seek behind the clouds that grew ever darker with each step I took.
It was a bit windy on Bross. I took a few pictures and stayed long enough for the dog hiker to catch up with me. We both made the call to make our way down right away before any storms caught up to us. His dog was pretty hesitant during the entire descent: tired, sore paws, and a little scared. But slow and steady….we made it down. The dog hiker and I had a pretty good conversation, he was a nice guy who had seemed to live a pretty adventurous life. We shared our opinions on how life should be lived, and we seemed to be on a similar page. When we arrived at his car, we parted ways and I headed further down the road to my car, which I chose not to take through the initial patch of snow that all the other vehicles maneuvered through easily. It added like 3 miles round-trip, but easy miles and nothing to complain about.
And now, it’s just time to plan my next step. Nothing too elaborate or long-term, just the next step. What’s the weather forecast for the next week? How’s the snow on certain peaks? How much money do I have? Can I make it through the summer? Where can I pick up a couple jobs? Should I shower? Laundry? Gear organization.