Fuck me, but I’m tired. Saturday’s hike was a fucking nightmare. Fucking. Night. Mare. It took me almost 7 hours to go 5.95 miles. I had to fight for every step. There were about four or five feet of snow on the mountain. Even with my snowshoes, I was sinking in up to my knees. And the snow was heavy, to boot.
Imagine doing one of those tire-runs – you know, the ones where there’s a field of tires and you have to get from one end to another by stepping in the center of the tires. Now imagine that they’re BIG tires: not quite monster-truck-big, but like the fat tires that they put on Jeeps to do some major four-wheeling or mud-running. Now imagine that you’ve got five pound weights strapped to your ankles while you’re doing it. Then put the tire field on the side of a mountain and you’re pretty close to what my day was like on Saturday.
The five pound weights stand for the snow that was on the tops of my snowshoes every time I lifted my foot out of the hole my last step made. I can’t tell you how many times I thought – seriously thought – about turning around. As it was, I was only able to climb Vly mountain. Bearpen will have to wait for another day.
Last weekend, on my way up Windham High Peak, I met an old hiker (I forget his name) who was “training” for the Appalachian Trail this spring. He told me that he’s planning on giving it a shot, that only about one in five people complete the AT. I told him there’s no reason he shouldn’t be one of the five. Later in our story-swapping session, he told me about a few hikes during which he wasn’t able to find the canister at various mountains. (Canisters are located at the summits of trail-less mountains, for which a bushwhack is required. They’re for sign-in purposes.) With the exception of the very first bushwhack Scott and I did, I’ve never failed to find the canister on any one of the peaks I’ve climbed. Come to think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever climbed a mountain and not reached the summit.
There are many kinds of people in this world, two of which are those who find the canister and those who don’t. The guy I talked to on Windham is one of the latter. I’m not.
Bearpen and Vly are right next to one another, and the hike to climb both is not a hard one. I now have three weekends in which to climb six mountains (Bearpen, Kaaterskill High Peak, Rocky, Lone, Balsam Cap, and Friday). Notwithstanding my desire to climb the latter four in a single hike, that means I’ve got four trips left for those three weekends. I’m technically behind schedule.
I’ve entertained the thought that I might not be able to complete my goal for this winter’s peakbagging extravaganza. But not for very long. I’ll finish what I started.
When I parked my car on Saturday, it was about a mile short of the snowplow turnaround at the base of the mountains. I had to walk that mile up the road in about a foot or so of snow. The snow was much deeper after the snowplow turnaround.
On the way back, that last mile had been plowed. At that point, my legs were jelly, so I was pretty psyched to be walking on a flat surface. That last mile is probably the only one that I’ve put on the actual soles of my boots this winter (the rest of the time, I’d been wearing either snowshoes or crampons). It occurred to me in that last mile that the snowplow may have inadvertently plowed me in. I figured I’d count myself lucky if my mirror wasn’t accidentally ripped off, or if the whole driver’s side of my car wasn’t FUBAR.
The snowplow did not, in fact, inadvertently plow me in. It plowed me in on purpose. The rest of the road was clear, with the exception of a couple of pretty big piles of snow right in front of and behind my car. My rear wheels were off the ground. There was no snow along the side of my car and my mirror and door were intact; I count myself lucky. I’m actually impressed at the skill of whomever was driving the snowplow – there was no damage to either end of my car. This wouldn’t have been some dude in a pickup truck with a plow on it, either: I’m talking about a heavy duty truck with a plow on the front and a plow on the side. The snow on the sides of the road was piled up about ten feet high.
Luckily as well, the lady who lived across the street from where I parked just got home as I was getting back to my car. She let me borrow her shovel and it only took me about ten minutes to get my car loose. I count myself lucky that I have all my teeth and that they’re clean.