Waking up in the cold again had me moving, anything to keep warm. I was packed up in a hurry and so was everyone else. We were determined to get on with the day, the cold was draining us and beating us down. I passed Flailing quickly on the way up the first mountain. My heart pumping to the rhythm on my music. I hike like a train, it takes me a bit to get up to speed, but once I do that momentum carries me. Once I hit my stride on the uphill I was gone. No stop till the top, was my motto.
I climbed the first mountain so quickly that I hit the flat section almost running, My heart rate setting the pace rather than my legs. I liked being out front, I was able to chose what I wanted to see and what I wanted to focus on. I could only hike, or take in the views and let the others catch me, it was my choice. Well it wasn’t that day, the temperature and lack of clothes had my choice already made. I focused on hiking, all the way to Sugarloaf Mountain.
With so much distance and time at my disposal I chose to summit one of the peaks off trail before heading down the back. By now my hunger was in control and I looked for a spring to get water to cook. Finding the most delicious pristine spring I sat down and rested. I had gone 9 miles and over two mountains, lunch was calling. Making the usual ramen and potatoes, I enjoyed the silence of my meal. By the time I was ready to leave, all packed up, I heard a noise from behind.
Flailing had caught me and was in a hurry. He had only focused on catching me and it took all morning. Asking if I already ate, I informed him I had. He wanted to eat on the other side of the river. Picking up my stuff we were off at an easy pace down the trail. Our pace quickly came to a halt as we ended up climbing down a two thousand foot cliff. the vertical descent was precarious at best. At one point we were left to climb sheer rock fifteen feet down with no foot or hand holds, only to have to swing at the last second around the large boulder or fall thirty feet to the trail below. If you screwed yourself here, it could be fatal, I wouldn’t be found for weeks or months especially if some large animal drug my carcass off.
The total descent took every bit of an hour and half to go two miles to the river. I was sure thankful that it wasn’t raining or wet that afternoon. It was truly a hardcore climb without safety gear and packs. Coming into the river we found the water moving very swiftly around the large boulders. I hate having to hop from rock to rock, my shoes having little to no traction have been giving me such a hard time lately. With every planned step I made my way to the other side, leaving my pack on the ground and perching upon a rock to wait. Flailing had to eat and Earthling still had to reach the river.
Napping intermittently between head bobs, I waited for our third member. She had been over an hour behind and that worried me. I wasn’t usually the fastest one and for her to be that far behind something was wrong. I gave her a specific amount of time and if it passed I was planning on climbing up the mountain to get her. Just as I had these thoughts she came around the corner on the other side. The look on her face said one word, misery.
She had the worst day in a while, her feet were hurting, lower and upper back were sore, and she had fallen quite a bit. Her body all banged up had taken all it could for the day. She was spent and we still had far to go. Flailing and I decided our best bet was to hit the campsite a mile away and rest for the next day. This mile would be the longest mile of the day. After sitting for more than 2 hours my muscles had become cold and stiff. Each step was labored until they warmed up. Reaching the campsite, i built my tent and started a fire for her to warm up by. The rest of the night went as quickly as they all do, consumed by eating dinner and making my bed. Still real sleep would allude me in the cold weather. I couldn’t help but toss and turn as my body became cold in my bag.