Monday, June 18, 2012

Mt Massive

Mt. Massive

June 28th, 2012

Doubt -to be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely; hesitate to believe.

"If doubt is challenging you and you do not act, doubts will grow. Challenge the doubts with action and you will grow. Doubt and action are incompatible."

~ John Kanary ~

"If you doubt you can accomplish something, then you can't accomplish it. You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through."

~ Rosalyn Carter ~

Rising from the Arkansas Valley, Mt Massive is only exceeded in height by its neighbor to the south, Mt Elbert.  If Elbert is the king of the Rockies, then Massive must surely be its queen.  With my parents in town for a week, Karen and I were able to escape together for a few days to ourselves.  We set our sights on hiking two 14ers with rest day at Mount Princeton Hot Springs in between.  When planning for this trip I put a question out on on which route to take up Mt Massive:  the longer (13.5 miles) standard route, or the shorter (8 miles) but steeper S.W. Slopes.  While I got plenty of responses, I think it was the fact that I was being lazy, and did not want to hike farther than I had to, that lead us up the S.W. Slopes.  As a bonus I would get to try the X-terra on a good 4WD rode.

The road up to the North Half Moon trailhead did not turn out to be all that bad.  It was only the last half mile that I actually needed the 4WD for.   I really wanted to try the creek crossing just past the trailhead, but luckily Karen is smarter and wiser than me, and vetoed that idea.   We set up camp in the field just to the east of the trailhead, and had the place to ourselves.  We turned in early in anticipation of a 5 a.m. wake-up.

 I slept restlessly, tossing and turning throughout the night.   I think the climb was weighing on my mind.  I was not sure that I was up to the steepness of the climb.  This approach to the summit gains 3950' in four miles.  Doubt was beginning to set in. 

With the first mile being relatively flat it meant we were in store for a lot of elevation gain in a short amount of time.  The first mile and a quarter roughly parallels Half Moon Creek, which was flowing  strong for as low of a snow pack that we had this past winter. We took our time through this section, using it as a warm up.  We were passed by another couple who had left five minutes behind us.  40 minutes later I began to question if we had missed the trail turn off, when we passed two  backpackers coming down from Half Moon Lakes, who told us we were almost there.  The turn off was well signed and had a large cairn, so I doubt there was any way we could of missed it.

Once on the summit trail, the climbing began and kept up all the way to the summit.  Where the trail crossed through boulders, we had to keep a sharp eye open so we did not lose the trail, as all the rocks blended together.  Karen did a great job of keeping us on track.  While the trail did climb the entire time, it never felt too steep.  At no time did we feel like we were going to topple over from exhaustion.  However, as we climbed up doubt continued to seep into my mind.

Doubt, of if I could make it up.  Doubt, of why I was doing this.  Was my goal of completing  all 54 "official 14ers" worthwhile?  Was I enjoying this, or was I just checking another one off?  There is only one way to get rid of doubt.  And that is to keep pushing through, which is what I did.  One step at a time! 

My favorite part of the climb was the traverse to the summit after we crossed over the saddle between South Massive and Massive itself.  The east slopes of massive was laid out before our eyes.  All four of Massive's peaks above 14,000' on were laid out in front of our eyes..  As we made our way across to the summit, the couple that passed us in the morning were working their way back across it.  We ran into another couple, who quickly left, at the summit.  Once they were gone we had the summit to ourselves for 30 minutes, until we decided to head back down.


The only disappointment was that someone had left a Frisbee on the summit. While their intention was good (it was a gift for whomever found it), I looked at it as trash, which someone would have to remove (which I did). I am sure the group of "youngsters" that came up after us would have really enjoyed the find, but I could not help but thinking it as defacing the peak somehow. "Take only photographs, leave only footprints".

While prepping for this climb I had read comments about the white marmots on Massive. I began to think these were in the realm of snipe hunts. So you can imagine my surprise when Karen actually spotted one, sunning on a rock right next to another brown marmot. They do exists!! I have the picture and video to prove it.
The hike down was a little more challenging than we had imagined. Stepping down through the boulders, beat our knees up pretty bad, even with the use of trekking poles. We were both happy to get back down to the flats.

 Once back down to the trailhead I dropped my pack and headed to the creek to soak my feet.  The water was bone chillingly cold, but it did help sooth my tired feet.  I could not bring myself to soak any of the dust off the rest of my body.

I felt stronger on today's climb, than I did on La Plata two weeks ago.  Hopefully I will continue to gain strength of each 14er.  I love to be able to do one of these one day and say "that was easy".  Until then, I'll just keep taking it - One step at a time,

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