Monday, July 5, 2010
It's important to be flexible. I was dying for a backpack trip after a week ensconced in a stuffy conference room, learning about bilateral modifications and fixed price contracts. But Rex called and he had a plan. Climb Ruby Peak with him, his wife, two other friends, their dog Pete, and of course Jerry.
How could I resist? Ruby Peak is the mountain that looms above town. It is how we judge the passing of the seasons, by squinting up at the snow draped over its shoulders. It is where we see the moon appear and the rosy blush of alpenglow.
We set out from Lime Quarry road, straight up a trail that switchbacked and wound around to Murray Gap, a wide saddle that overlooks Silver Creek Basin and beyond. From there the scrambling began, sidehilling through Grape-Nut consistency talus, up and over craggy outcrops, over snowfields, until we reached the summit, three hours and change later. It is a small spot, rocky and unprepossessing, but the view was breathtaking: snowy peaks marching away to the horizon, the meadows far below, a lonely frozen lake with no name. At nearly nine thousand feet, it felt like I could touch the sky.
It's a big downside of day hikes that sooner or later you have to turn around, and we did, taking an alternate route back to the Gap that involved sliding down snowfields and walking along the old ditch bank (built in 1907, it still supplies water for irrigation far below). We passed a campsite so beautiful that it would have almost been worth running down to get sleeping bags--nearby a crystal clear swimming hole beckoned. But march on we did, arriving at the truck after six hours of hiking.
We stood and looked back at the peak. It seemed impossible that we had been so high, just a few hours earlier.