You know how with some people, an ordinary outing turns into something epic? I don't mean epic in the miserable, survival mode where you struggle to build a snow cave and fend off predators. I mean epic in that you are pushed to greater distances and higher destinations, because neither of you have the common sense to turn around.
Such was the case this weekend with my friend Amy. We had planned to snowshoe, with some skiers, into a backcountry hut for a couple of days. People dropped out for various reasons, including illness and dog issues. Amy and I soldiered on under heavy packs and in rotten snow.
During our pretrip meeting, Jerry had mentioned that a nice day trip was to travel to Bonny Lakes, a five mile journey from the hut. Of course, travel is easier on skis than it is on snowshoes, falling in deep holes of tree wells and stumbling through regen from the big fire of 1989. Undaunted, Amy and I pressed on. Aware of the coming darkness, we agreed to a turn-around time of three. At three, I broke out into what I thought was the lake, a wide snowy expanse ringed by cliffs. "Yahoo!" I screamed, but Amy's GPS showed we were only in a swampy meadow, a half mile below the lakes. Half mile? How long could that take? Like illogical Everest climbers, we discarded our turn-around time and climbed upward, avoiding an obvious avalanche chute and slogging through the snow. Each time we stopped we agreed that this was far enough, that the lakes would be buried in snow anyway. Each time we continued on a bit farther.
Finally we came to a windswept point above the lakes, which were indeed buried in snow and looked just like the meadow we had mistaken for a lake earlier. It was 4:15 when we turned back. It had taken us 5 hours to go 5 miles. Luckily, it only took three hours back, even with a misguided detour through fallen trees where I had to pry my foot out of my boot to pull the snowshoe out of a deep hole.
Epic indeed. Without Amy, I would have turned around much earlier, and stomped disappointed back to the hut. We should all have friends who don't want to turn around.