Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Over the Divide - Part 4

I woke with the sun, energized and ready to go. In my plaid flannel shirt, I split wood to replace the logs we used the night before, and fired up the oatmeal. Packed up, cabin swept, it was if we had never been there. 

Setting out along the trail, the early morning was as good as it gets; the fresh brisk air, the Tetons with halos rolling over their peaks, and the sun twinkling off the light snow making the world come alive!

Grand Teton Behind us!

Me soaking up the beauty!

This lake was a bit too cold for us!

It was then we tackle the ascent. 2.4 miles and 3000 ft straight up of switchbacks. Pushing ourselves we finally made it up and the world turned to white. 

The ascent

The world in white and blue
Catching our breath we took it all in, though only for a brief moment. Quickly crossing the saddle, we stopped at the edge and the fun began! The whole mountain slope was icy snow. Far below amidst the trees, the trail was visible, but from up top it was nowhere to be found. Perched on the divide, the wind howling its icy song, we were stuck.
Paintbrush divide: bracing myself against the wind

Sliding down was out of the question. The snow was an ice sheet and the slope was littered with jagged rocks. Peeking out here and there was the form of possibly a trail. Taking an initial leap of faith, we jumped down off the divide on to where we presumed the trail to be. Safely landed we attempted to switch back our way down. Somehow we started to make it. At points the snow was light enough to pound out footholes, at other times not so. Thoughts of the Path of Caradhras crept into our heads.”If we cannot pass over the Mountain, why not pass under it”. The fellowship may have had the luxury of turning back and going through Moria, but we did not!

Looking back after our initial leap!
In the cases where the snow was ice hard, Tim, with heavier boots, had to whack away and lay out the holes for us. At one point, I grasped on with my fingers to the footholes, before I would have started an undesired and uncontrolled slide down. Re-distributing my weight, I pulled myself back into a crouch and laughed to the mountains. Tim’s rage meter was off the charts, but at the same time he was in the zone! Focused, we painfully made our way down to the fluffier snow. Then, with alpine meadow underneath, we did our best imitation of kids sliding down the local hill after the first real snowfall of the year, by running, sliding on our butts, and howling with laughter and joy to the trees and the re-emerged trail!

Tim blazing the trail

The outline of the trail on the slope

Almost home free.

Our reward for braving the pass: A Female Ducky Grouse
Having braved the path of Caradhras, the remaining 6 or so miles felt like a piece of cake! Also, having past a ridiculously pretty young women in the company of a bearded hippy dude, made us consider that perhaps we ought to grow beards as well!

Later, Tim told me he had been quite scared up on the slope, where I had to admit that I wasn't scared at any point. However, the next days would bring some fear for me, where Tim would remain cool as a cucumber. At any rate, we came off Paintbrush Divide mountain men at last!

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