It seems that you cannot get to ANY trail head without traveling a LONG AND WINDING ROAD (seem to remember that song). After yet another Logger's breakfast-where thankfully I did show some restraint, we climb back into the car and head to our next day hike with acclimation in mind with EVERYONE on board. All seem to be recovered and ready to rumble---or hike. We are hiking the Lost Man Trail today which is a horseshoe shaped trail. The decision of the day is do we begin at the top of the horseshoe or the bottom---after much discussion, we decide the top since that will mean the most difficult part of the hike will be in the beginning. Tired legs often protest when in the last two miles you must climb a pass. (Keep reading a REALLY good decision)
The reason for the long and winding road is that we began our hike at around 11,000' feet and would climb to over 12,000' before heading down again. We spent the first two miles of the nine total climbing those 1,000'. The entire two miles provided a beautiful panoramic view of the Sawtooth range of the Rockies. Another consideration of which direction to hike were the Notorious Thunderstorms. We would be way above the tree line when crossing the pass and needed to be down below that tree line before the afternoon thunderstorm threat. GOOD DECISION!
\During our climb up---we saw a runner come by us headed over the pass as we sat beside a mountain lake catching our breath. We yelled out to him how impressed we were and he answered this was an easy run for him of 9 miles. He had run the entire Maroon Bell Loop a few days prior---almost 30 miles! Keep this in mind---it will come into play later in the week!
After descending the pass, we were in an upper Alpine meadow with a large variety of wildflowers--yet again carpeting our way down the mountain. It took several hours for us to get below the tree line as we watched the gathering clouds grow dark and ominous. We stopped briefly at a waterfall and Sonja once again stuck her poor foot in the ice cold water. She had surgery on her ankle in December--and it is a miracle she is even on the trip.
All at once---we hear the distant rumbling of thunder and know the race is on to get out of the open and nearer to the shelter amid the towering trees. The talk and banter stopped and we all were concentrating on hurrying to safety as the time between the lightning and the thunderclap became shorter and shorter. At the last crack of lightning which seemed to be directly over our heads and a count of 3 and a LOUD BOOM---we headed to the lowest possible point under the trees, but not by the trees and GOT LOW---REAL LOW!
It is amazing how God provides---we had met a couple of women up the trail and had a brief talk with them before scampering on down the trail. These same two women caught up to us and decided they should hunker down with us. A conversation ensued which led to a fortuitous happening later in the day. We sat through about 30-45 minutes of pouring rain and then a HUGE hail storm at the end. The wind turned cold--bitter cold--and we were out with only our rain gear. This helped make the decision to take ALL of my warm clothes on our long hike the next day---once again God's intervention in what could have been a BAD decision to leave some of those behind.
We finally took off again----horses to the barn for the last 2-3 miles down the mountain and to the lower trail head. REMEMBER---our car is up the mountain--it is still raining AND COLD. So Sonja and I bravely sacrifice the 2 younger women to stand on the road and hitch a ride (HEY WE ARE NOT STUPID WHO HAS A BETTER CHANCE OF BEING PICKED UP SOMEONE 30 OR SOMEONE -WELL OLDER?) About that time, the 2 women we had met earlier came off the trail and gave the girls a ride back up the mountain and to our car. It seems to take an eternity for them to return--but remember LONG WINDING ROAD!
The White on the Mountain is all of the
hail that poured out of the sky!
WHAT A WARM UP ---OR COOL DOWN AS IT TURNED OUT---to the beginning of our wilderness hike tomorrow---THE MAROON BELL LOOP!