My alarm went off and I fumbled around to find my iPhone which doubles as an alarm clock. As I stumbled into the kitchen I became aware that my place was a mess. To my left was my back pack still packed up from last weekend and to my right my camel back that need desperately to be washed out. On top of it all was a half week’s worth bike gear was strewn about. Lately I have not been taking care of the past but living in the moment. Work, go biking, fall asleep thinking about big adventure.
“The pitch got steeper. I knocked a rock loose and it did not bounce just a little way and it did not slide down … IT FELL, then hit the walls of the canyon smashing violently before slamming to the valley below. We suddenly realized that there was no turning back now. Things got quiet.” ~Crazy Peak 2004 (pardon the grammar)
It seems everything has been on hold since acquiring the 12,663 foot Borah Peak summit last Saturday. Since then all I can muster is the energy for biking. Biking is my rock. My escape from responsibility. It is the rock I hide under when I want to be alone. It is the only thing that keeps me feeling “solid”.
Borah Peak is another big rock, quite literally. Well, a big pile of rocks. But it is a rock that makes me feel far from “solid”. When I get exposed up on a ridge with vertical drops on either side I get vertigo symptoms. I suspect it is because I can not focus on any close “solid” object. The vast open spaces pull me forward and let go making me feel like a weeble wobble. I start swaying. This is not a good feeling when exposed to a sheer drop that could mean certain death. Borah Peak would be the big test of this weakness. Not since I froze solid on Crazy Peak some 6 years ago.
“I settled down in my cubby hole and
started to freak out more. Things got worse and I realized that there was no way I was willing to go in any direction.” ~Crazy Peak 2004
It was 9:40 am when my friends Jill, Norman, and I set forth to tackle Borah Peak. I was brining my demons along to expose high up in a place called “chicken out ridge”. Starting out through scrub brush the trail was dusty and strewn with loose rock. I remember thinking that it would be rough riding my mountain bike up it. That is how I judge most trails, how bikeable it is.
The trail up to Borah Peak does not mess around. At no time does it level out. It proceeds some 5,000 plus feet straight up in a little over 3 miles.
“Wow! This trail really gets down to business”, I remarked.
They were out of breath and couldn’t comment.
“We have already done a thousand feet”, Jill remarked a little later.
I paused for a moment but then went back to my issue with my GPS. My broken Garmin kept beeping and I couldn’t turn it off. Finally after much tinkering I just shut it off and put it away. Just a few moments after that we broke out above the tree line and onto a barren ridge. It reminded me of the crazy mountains. Argh.
The lower ridge line walk was spectacular with mountains coming into view as we climbed higher. Soon we reached the hands on part. There were numerous people hanging out all over it. It was called “Chicken Out Ridge” and I have been hearing all about it from Jill. It was about to begin. I would finally face my demons.
I have to say it was a little scary but I felt solid. I don’t know what it was. Jill seemed to be pretty solid as well. Norman was at home and didn’t have a problem. We all scampered up to and then down the ridge to the snow bridge. Wow, I felt great. I sat down to watch Jill and Norman cross the bridge. Jill raised her hands in victory.
Given I was not Sir Hillary but I did make it without clinging to a rock and weeping for help. The rest of climb was just before us and the last pitch was a doozy. Straight up through the scree. Jill lead the charge to the summit. We hoisted flags, took photos, and enjoyed a snack. We had climbed Borah in about 3.5 hours.
I stayed on top to collect a piece of myself as Jill and Norman headed down. I faced the mountains and made friends. We were friends once again and it felt great.
Coming down burned the quads but it was all good. I realized that maybe hiking with people of the same ability could of been the difference. Jill and I share exposure issues and doing with her really helped a lot. Or it could be that I am in better shape, better hydrated, whatever. Maybe it was my friends, they were the rock today. They kept me feeling “solid”.
“So do you think you could bike this?”
“Well … maybe this part”