They say French botanist Andre Michaux and John Muir broke into song during their time here. I’m sure they were celebrating the magnificent landscape but a small part of me thinks they were also celebrating the fact that they didn’t meet their demise. After all, this mountain is easy on the eyes but punishing on the body.
That being said, this was the most thrilling hike we’ve done to date. Let me set the stage. The weather? Cold (lower 40s not including windchill) with a side of sporadic ice.
Before we hit the trail head we walked across the mile high swinging bridge- America’s highest suspension footbridge. The wind was so fierce you could hear it whistling through every crevice.
At the start of the trail head, there’s a large sign with the bold yellow lettering “this trail is for experienced hikers.” I have to tell you, I pondered their definition of “experienced” for a few minutes. The thoughts went something like “I think we’re experienced but that term is so subjective. We have all the right gear and a few hikes under our belt, does that mean we’re good? I’m not going to fall off a cliff right? Nah. You sure? Baptism by fire. Yeeep.” You get the point.
We had to fill out a required permit (free) so that if you’re not back to your car by 5pm, a search team will be sent out to track you down. Okedokey. We started at noon and with the 5 o’clock deadline in mind we had to keep a decent pace. Ha!
After about 10 minutes it was clear that this hike was going to be rough, tough, relentless yet exhilarating all at the same time. We used cables to pull ourselves up steep, slippery slopes and ladders to scale the mountainside. Best. Playground. Ever.
There were patches of unexpected ice which kept things interesting. At times we couldn’t use the cables because those sections were totally iced over. Instead we gripped on to the trees, hunkered our derrières down and slid our way through. Hey, whatever it takes right?
Once we reached Alpine Meadows which was 1.5 miles up, we regrouped and made the decision to head the 1.5 miles back down. It was 2:30 and if we hiked any further we would not have made it back to our car by the 5pm deadline.
We are bruised, battered and sore but we made it and would do it again in a heartbeat! Mother Nature is a funny thing. While pushing you to the max it provides such clarity. You don’t know how far you can push yourself until you realize that giving up is not an option on the table. The absence of options forces you to dig deep within which in turn taps into an intense appreciation for things you take for granted and an inner strength most don’t even know they possess.
There are so many great quotes by John Muir it’s hard to pick just one but this one seems to fit perfectly for this hike.
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”
Until next time! Xo
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