Friday, September 19, 2008

Bub and Bubba's Turnagainhouse Trot, Part 1 - The Vision

The Turnagainhouse Trot, which I hope will become an annual event (however with a different outcome than its inaugural trip), began a little over a year ago when I called up my friend “the Whale” to go for a hike. I’ve known Whale quite literally since I was born, and let it be known that she resembles nothing of the noun which she has adopted as her name (in fact, she resembles quite the opposite being a land-based bipod with a tall, thin stature). Whale suggested that we climb Flattop together “going up the back-way”, and I readily agreed on as 1) I’d caused permanent emotioinal scarring the last time we’d gone hiking together when she found out that when I said “a couple hours – nothing too bad” really meant “we’ll be back in about 6 hours if we keep a nice fast pace, and jog the flat bits”, and thought it would be good to placate this with a mild Flattop hike - and 2) the traffic up “the back-way”, or “back-side” is typically much more modest, and the path much steeper, less defined, and quite frankly – fun.

Unfortunately, upon arriving at the beginning of the “back-way” on Highland Rd., Whale and her friend Hollie whom was supposed to come along, were nowhere to be found. I was about 10 minutes late, and couldn’t remember what either drove, nor could get cell reception, so, not seeing them, jogged up the first half of the trail to try and catch them as I assumed they’d already gone up. Above “brushline” (treeline would be a generous term here), I still couldn’t see them for sure, but continued to go as fast as I could to catch a group a ways in front to see if that was them. I caught this group about ½ -2/3 of the way up, and not being Whale and Hollie, decided to turn back around and check the parking lot again. Arriving at the parking lot, I again saw no sign of them, and so stood on my truck trying to get cell reception and call them. No answer? Okay, up again we go!

Arriving at the top, solo, I pulled out my phone I had brought along on the second time up, and gave them a ring. It turns out that they were on their way down, having gone up the “old-way” on the front side! However, I still had a lot of energy left, and decided to tackle a couple more peaks. It was probably around 8 at night or so in July so daylight wasn’t going to be a problem, and off I went jogging up Peak 2, Peak 3, and Flaketop Mtn. By that time I was really moving strong, and running down to the pass between Flaketop and Ptarmigan Peak, decided to see how fast I could go up Ptarmigan. Ptarmigan is a pretty steep hike, but I kept a jogging pace up it until arriving at the scrambling part near the top, and was excited as could be feeling the blood flowing, and energy running as I cruised up. It was one of those ecstasy moments where your body is 110% alive, active, alert, exhausted but charged, and ready to take on anything.

When I made the top of Ptarmigan, I looked along the ridgeline as it continued away into the distance, and imagined how fun it would be to continue running and scrambling it… eventually reaching the ridgeline jutting from North Suicide, over the two Suicide Peaks, then up Indianhouse Mtn., and eventually dropping into Indian. At the time it seemed a bit crazy, but absolutely irresistible. I sat at the top of Ptarmigan for a while, thinking about what it would be like to continue on that path through the night. I didn’t have a headlamp, water (my small bottle was quite empty by now, and the ridgeline was rather bare) or food though, and was wearing only synthetic shorts and a t-shirt. Reluctantly, I turned around, jogging and boot-skiing down Ptarmigan to Canyon Rd., where I jogged the couple miles back to the car – excited about the possibility of completing my envisaged ridgeline link-up. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to implement it that summer, nor could I find anyone to go with me, but the trip stuck in the back of my mind over the coming year – and all I could think of when I went home this past summer was trying to attempt it in full.

(Maps courtesy of Google Maps.)

No comments: