Saturday, May 20, 2017

Retreat from a high point

The trails are opening up!  It's been a long winter of the bike trainer and the gym. While it will be a couple of months before the high country melts out, the lower elevation trails are once again open for business. We are able to now trot along about six miles in before snow stops us.

Going to be awhile before anyone climbs Sacajawea.
The late spring means that the narrow Hells Canyon window is open a little longer than usual.  "I don't think I've ever climbed up Freezeout this late," I mused to T as we ascended the trail. Usually baking in the heat by now, it was downright pleasant this April...I mean, May. A 50% chance of thunderstorms was not about to deter us from our goal, Freezeout Saddle. Only about three miles, it can feel like a lot farther as you plod up endless switchbacks, climbing over two thousand feet. 

We had a bigger day than that planned. We hoped to hike along the ridge for a few miles, on a little-used trail that circles the canyon rim. I hadn't been on it in years and T never had. It would be a good, long hiking day.

Two backpackers lounged on the saddle, getting ready for the rocky descent into the canyon. I felt envious, as I always do when I day hike. It would have been a perfect night to camp.
This view doesn't really get old.
Ruby!
Or not. A clap of thunder from nearby sent us on high alert. A storm crouched just to the west, ready to descend. We were on the highest point around. Time to leave. The miles went a lot faster on the way down.
 

Yikes!

We gained the parking lot just as the storm unleashed. A bear hunter observed us.
"You girls got back just in time," he said. Disregarding the fact that in no known universe can I still be considered a girl, he was correct.

So it would be a short day, but you don't mess with thunderstorms around here. I recently talked with a lightning strike survivor, and his story pretty much convinced me that retreat was the better part of valor.  In these mountains, you have to know when to retreat. 

As we drove away, lightning pounded the hills. I thought of the backpackers and hoped they had made it to a low point. Though six miles is nowhere near an epic day, it felt fine. When I used to run more, I got caught up in the miles I recorded in my training log. Less than a certain number meant I had failed. I'm glad I've moved past that point.

14 comments:

  1. Sounds like a very good day in a spring that finally arrived....here, also. Ruby looks as if she is bonding with the mountains, too!

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    1. Ruby is a real mountain dog now.

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  2. Zoiks! Glad you got back to your vehicle before the storm hit.

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    1. Me too, I was a little worried.

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  3. Lightning in May. That's some crazy!

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    1. I think it was because of our crazy weather. Snow one day and 80 degrees the next.

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  4. These photos are so dramatic when you click on them to enlarge them....also sweet (Ruby staring at the mountains)

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  5. Spring needs to stay for a little while longer. With the weather hitting 80 today and tomorrow the pine pollen is blowing through the trees like bright yellow clouds. One day of rain ro rinse it down would be great. Just got a call from Mom. Sixty miles north of here the mosquitoes and black flies are bad enough to haul a person away. This weekend shall be a joy. You and J have a bug repellent that works good. Have you tried lemongrass or lavender. Let me know. I may try lemon grass and lavender. Glad you got yo home and kayak this past weekend as well.

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    1. Well, that's good I live in the mtns. No bugs. Soon the same people who complained all winter about the cold will be complaining about the heat. I haven't found a good repellent...here we don't often need one.

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  6. Yes...mountain folk do get tired of the "bike trainer."

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    1. Especially when you stare at a wall for an hour!

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  7. Glad you stayed safe. I'm not a runner and often on a hike I wish there was more time to stop and smell the daisies, so to speak.

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    1. I feel that way sometimes on a run, and on a long hike where I have to put in the miles.

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