Wednesday, October 3, 2012
the way it feels at 10,000 feet
I always forget how hard this trail is. Climbing 4,000 feet in four miles, it snakes its way up a mountain. It is eroded and harsh, little scree pebbles underfoot, no slacking off allowed. Once I saw two guys running this trail. How they did it is a mystery. It is an effort just to hike.
There's something about being at 10,000 feet that you just can't get at sea level. It's both a feeling and a truth. Gone is the security of rescue, the serenity of warm temperatures and easy breathing. Even in summer, there is still a hint of uncertainty this high. Things could turn in a minute. You have to be more careful, more self-reliant.
People once stayed near here, trying to pull copper from this mountain. There are adits and the remains of a makeshift cabin farther down, but you know they ranged all over this country. Though it's not legal in wilderness, I've often thought about finding a place to stay out a year. I'd pick a place like this, high and lonesome. I'd stack in the firewood and a whole mess of books. I'd pack up rice and beans and skis and snowshoes. I'd bring a dog or two, for warmth.