Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Crossing Part II

In my mind there were two distinct parts to this hike. I have categorized them as before the crossing, and after the crossing.

So allow me to explain. There were at least two or three snow crossings before this one. These slippery, snow filled crossings were as I've alluded to in my previous posts "manageable".

Manageable in the sense that serious bodily harm and/or death was not an imminent factor. As we approached the last crossing it initially seemed that it would be more or less similar to the others.

After painstakingly walking heel to toe for about 15 feet onto this crossing, I realized that it felt different. This embankment seemed to be pitched at a much steeper grade than previous passes. When I looked ahead to try to make out the end of the crossing it also appeared to be a lot lengthier as well.

It wasn't until I was approximately 1/4 of the way across before I gained up enough courage to look down. What I saw didn't immediately resonate in my brain. A long, snow filled, icy slope complete with a 3500 foot fall off of the mountain winked back at me. I was in complete disbelief. "What the fuck am I doing?", "I'm a calculated risk taker", "This is bullshit".

It is important to understand that the angle of this particular crossing was on par with any black diamond ski slope that I have ever skied on.

Lacking an ice ax or spiked shoes, if I had slipped, it is a forgone conclusion that I would have slid right off of the side of that mountain into the abyss. It was revealed to me a few minutes after completing this crossing that someone had recently died at the very same spot a week before.

Gathering what senses I had left, I managed to concentrate and continue on. At a couple of points I could feel my legs trembling from a variety of factors. The stress of walking heel to toe, shouldering a 40 pound bag slumped over my back, and lets not forget sheer terror. I remember at one point about half way through where I momentarily went into full panic attack mode. Somehow I was able to coach my nervous system out of it.

About three quarters of the way across the snow became noticeably harder which subsequently made it more difficult to gain any sort of reliable footing. Inch by inch, I walked slowly until I had reached the end of the crossing.

Sitting on this rock shortly after completing the crossing, I was actually angry at myself for doing this. I still have mixed feelings about this and whether I should have done it or not.

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