To the Mountains

12 06 2013
Bugle Cliff -- Mary Jolles photo

Bugle Cliff — Mary Jolles photo

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and finally I feel I’ve got the equipment and enough experience to do it.

I’m addicted to the mountains. Every summit is a rush. I curse and groan and puff and pant up that steep grade, but when I come out onto a ledge and see the world spread out before me, there is no greater high. Hiking along a ridge, discovering an upland bog full of tiny flowers, falling face first into a rushing stream after hours of sweat and heat. Standing alone in a deep woods, listening. Feeling. It’s home.

Driving up 93 towards the White Mountains I feel the excitement start to build with that first glimpse of rugged peaks. Driving home I watch them retreat in my rear view mirror and it’s like leaving behind dear friends. I can’t wait to get back.

When I was younger, I should have gotten involved somehow, maintaining trails or working at an AMC hut, found some way to get paid for hanging out on a mountain. But Life was always tugging me in other directions. Now I’m too old. I couldn’t run up and down those trails with a 50 pound load the way those kids do. But I can walk with a 25 pound pack, carrying all the gear I’d need to spend a few days in the woods.

I’ve done several overnighters with some friends of mine, experienced hikers, folks who really know what they are doing. I know about shelters and bear boxes and camp sites. I can read a map and research a hike, check the weather and know how much water to bring. I can figure how long it would take me to hike so many miles at so much altitude gain. I can do this.

To the mountains. That’s where enlightenment happens, right? You find an ancient hermit sitting in a cave at the summit. Ask him the meaning of life, and he says something like, “Life is like a beanstalk — isn’t it?”

Maybe not, but it’s where I need to be.

So I’m packing my gear, my tent and pad, first aid kit, headlamp and all the rest, and I’m going to head up towards Twin Mountain. I’ll park off Gale Loop River Road and take the Garfield Trail up. Summit Garfield, then tent out at Garfield Ridge campsite. Next day I make for the Galehead hut and tackle North and South Twin. Drag myself back and crash at Galehead hut. Next morning, stroll up Galehead and then roll down the Gale River Trail towards home.

Four mountains in three days. All by myself.

Glorious.

Mt. Washington

Mt. Washington

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5 responses

12 06 2013
Mary Jolles

Hi, Mel, this is Mary here. What a great article! What comes across is your contentment to experience what is possible for you and not fret about being older. You’ve set goals for yourself that are attainable for you, but that stretch you just a little bit beyond the comfort level so that achieving them is something new and something to be proud of. And frankly, what you’ve achieved is far more than the vast majority of folks much younger than yourself!

12 06 2013
justinegraykin

Thanks, Mary. I wouldn’t have gotten here if not for you and Nick. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.

12 06 2013
kate

Safe travels

13 06 2013
Ashley

That sounds like a fantastic trip. I live in a big city in the Andes mountains, but I haven’t explored them that much, unfortunately. I’ll have to add it to my list =)

13 06 2013
justinegraykin

The Andes are REAL mountains. Make time for them. You won’t regret it.

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