Saturday, September 20, 2008

Big Hike

can YOU see the trail?
I've always wanted to climb a mountain. Today, I had a chance to do it as a day hike. Some might call it cheating, walking up a trail to a mountain peak. As long as you've done it under your own power and get to stand at a place where the earth does nothing but slope downwards all around you, I say it counts as a summit.

Ha Ling Peak is a tough 'moderate' level hike - you are essentially walking up a 1:6 grade for two hours. The view at the top is spectacular and well worth the complaining from your calves and gluteal muscles. Kate and I started off late (around 4 pm) due to some family commitments, but we arrived at the trailhead well-prepared. We had proper clothes, footwear, a first aid kit, trail food, water and all the essentials. We huffed and puffed up the trail and met many people (some with dogs) coming down.

The last 20 minutes of the climb was above the treeline, along the scree (loose pebbles) on a severe slope. We were trying to be careful not to step on any of the little bits of fragile alpine grass while we worked to keep our footing and not tumble/slide down the incline. The trail was almost impossible to discern on the bare rocks and we strayed from it more than once as we picked our way up.

Our stay at the top was brief but pleasant. We caught the last bit of warm sun (no thanks to the cloud that moved in) for a few photos, an amazing view and a visit from a fearless chipmunk (Kate's first chipmunk spotting ever). The hike down was as hard on the quads as the hike up was on the calves. The fact that it was prime prowling time for the animals had us keeping a good pace, with visions of mountain lions and bears watching us stroll past. We made it to the van just as twilight was setting in.

Life has been comically busy this past year. As the burningly-critical issues have been dealt with, it has allowed the merely critical and even some minor issues to rise to the surface. Included with those is my need to spend time being active in a natural setting - specifically in the mountains (which are less than an hour's drive from my front porch).

Banana and McMonk both declined our invitation to come on the hike and I'm OK with that. Yes, I'm disappointed that they don't share my infatuation with the Rockies but I have to remember that I developed my love for hostelling/hiking/skiing independently from my parents. I won't ever drag my girls to the mountains against their will, but there will always be a seat in the van for them if they decide to come along. I know the good times we have shared on prior trips is a seed that may take time to germinate.

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