Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mountains Don't Care

Boyfriend and I like to go hiking together on the weekends. I am particularly fond of going up above timberline whenever possible, and every time I go, I wonder why the hell I waited a whole week to come back.

A couple Saturdays ago, Boyfriend and I thought we might hike up to the Boulder Field on the Longs Peak trail in the park.

We knew it was a popular trail in the summer, and that the parking lot was way too small for the number of people wanting to head up there, so we set the alarm for 4:30AM.

On a Saturday.

Yes, on purpose.

Yes, I am a hiking nerd.

No. I am not a morning person.

Poor Boyfriend.

I tried to get myself moving, but I mostly stared blearily around for 30 minutes before I could think about getting ready, so it ended up taking us an hour to get out of the house.

I made Boyfriend drive my car because I knew that I was far too stupid that early in the morning to be allowed behind the wheel of a car. I would probably have functioned better if I just stayed up.

In any case, we left the house about 5:30, and reached the trailhead maybe an hour after that.

We knew there would be trouble before we even got there.

The little road was bumper to bumper with parked cars for at least a mile from the parking lot.  It made me feel like a layabout only getting up at 4:30.  These people were getting to the trailhead at like 2.  Damned overachievers.

Yes, I know we were planning to hike a lot that day, which is basically walking and I shouldn't balk at walking some more, but we were actually planning to push ourselves pretty well, too. 6 miles, 3000 vertical feet up one way trip, and then having to go back down again before noon, and most of those miles would be above tree line. Adding an extra 500-1000 feet and mile on each end of the trip when we were already getting a "late" start wasn't going to work. Or at least, it wouldn't work for my personal "this is too dangerous" line.

We made the decision to find another hike for the day.

45 minutes later, we made it to the Bear Lake parking lot, and we were on our way up Flattop.  This hike might not be as dramatic or death defying, but it was still a beautiful and strenuous trip above the trees to the continental divide.

That square looking mountain out there is Longs Peak.  A friend of mine once asked me if Longs Peak was my nemesis.  No, no, not my nemesis.  More like my big scary friend that might kill me one day, but not a nemesis. 

Before long, the trees were getting stubby and strange, and the pikas and ptarmigans and marmots were out and about.

If you enlarge this picture, you can see the parking lot, way the hell out there.  No, really, it's there.

Also, that little spit of a tarn down there is about 500 vertical feet below is.  Distances are deceiving up here.

There is no summer at high altitude.  Just spring, early winter, winter, late winter, and then back to spring again.

We had originally thought to climb up Hallet Peak from Flattop, but it was almost 11AM when we reached the Flattop overlook.  From here, we are almost an hour from being able to make it back below timberline.

Could we have made it to the top and back again?  Probably.  Did I want to have to run from a thunderstorm on slippery loose rocks after climbing a mountain?  No.

Instead, we sat above Tyndel Glacier and contemplated the universe, ate lunch, and had a beer.

Here are a few things I have learned:
  1. Mountains don't care.  They don't care if you are tired, sick, young, old, fit, out of shape.  They aren't trying to kill you, because they don't even notice you.  Climbing a mountain is being a microscopic mite on the face of  a person with a really big nose.

    I love this sign.  It is bolted to a rock along the trail (click to enlarge).
  2. I have to pee above treeline.  EVERY. DAMNED. TIME. Do you see any rocks even big enough to hide behind?  This is a busy trail, too.  Damn it.
    This is really beautiful until you have to pee.

  3. All beer, even Coors, is awesome in the moutnains.  Even Coors Light.  Even Coors Light in the 8oz cans that make you feel like a giant because they are so cute and tiny.  But Coors needs to work on their carbonation level.  Seriously, it was all foam.  You would think the beer of the friggin ROCKY MOUNTAINS would not overfoam at high altitude

    This is a picture of Coors Light going up my nose.  Note to marketing: I will fake drinking beer on future beer ads.
  4. Speaking of Coors, I wonder if they would sponsor me.  For something.  I would totally take pictures of Coors cans in cool places.  I would even drink it.  That would be awesome.  I would even pretend to like the over-foaming quality.

    See Coors?  You looking?  This looks ALL KINDS of impressive.
  5. Going downhill is actually harder than going uphill.
    Beautiful.  Really.  I think I am going to pee my pants.
  6. Drinking a beer when you already have to pee is just stupid.  I really wish I could pee standing up.
    If I could pee standing up, I would TOTALLY pee off this ledge.


Anonymous said...

I am consistently amazed and disturbed by your desire to GO OUTSIDE. Next time you go, you can hike and I will drink beer on the couch -- no overfoaming then! Plus, that sign is GENIUS!

Leauxra said...

I know, I know, hoody. It's like a sickness. I can't help it. Get this: Yesterday during my lunch hour I went outside for a run. Maybe there's a support group I can join or something.

Anonymous said...

That's what time I get up for work, so I try to not get up until at least 5:30 on weekends. 4:30 to go hiking is superimpressive! Even more impressive is that you brought alcohol. Genius!

Leauxra said...

Thoughtsy: I have never been much of an early riser, as much as I may wish I were. Even when I have had to get up the ungodly hour of 4AM, I still end up sleeping until 8 or 9 on the weekends. I am apparently just wired that way.

PudMonkey said...

Love the pictures. Makes me sad we didn't get out of town more while we were down there. Next time. Also, yeah, Coors should totally sponsor you. Tag your pictures with "Coors" on flickr. A friend of mine is getting free keens because she takes pictures of her keens everywhere she goes.

Leenie said...

Yours is a super good blog. I've been following for a while and get a kick out of every post. We live on the other side of the Rockies. We can see the Grand Tetons from our house. So true. They don't care. We are just dust in the wind to them.

Wow photos and I'm so impressed by your quad-killing hike.

Leauxra said...

PudMonkey: Yeah, next time you're out let's go hiking in the mountains and share some beer at Ed's after.

Also: your plan is brilliant. Except I don't want free Coors, I want MONEY.

Leenie: Thanks for the feedback! And I LOVE the Tetons, but haven't been out thataway for a while. I may need to take a gander soon.

Stephanie said...

You know, they make little gadgets for girls who want to pee standing up. I kid you not. It's pink.

Leauxra said...

Hahahaha, Stephanie. I have seen those before, but I always wondered if they are sanitary. I mean, how do you clean them?

There is actually an instructional video at to teach women to pee standing up without gadgets. I haven't bought it, though, because I am slightly weirded out by what will be on the video. One of these days though...

Anonymous said...

oh leauxra!!! (love the name by the way!!!) I just so love reading your blogs!! I have always enjoyed your clever and witty writing! xokami