Thursday, August 9, 2007

Day 12: 8/5/07: Mount Massive (North, Green): 14,421


9 miles

Ascent: W Slopes

Descent: SW Slopes - N Halfmoon Creek

Company: Wendy Chi

Wildlife: goats

4200 feet

Start: 7:30 am

Summit: 12:30 am

Stop: 3:45 pm


Cloudy/cool – 6:00 am

Intermittent rain – 11:00 am

Thunder/rain – 1:00 pm

Ode to the Bushwhacker:

Lupine tremble at the sound
Of you Vibram soles
Impacting improvised routes
Upon alpine tundra

Eyes set to the heights
Looking for a geographical clue
Hiding amidst cairns
Randomly scattered rising from the lupine

While I have learned that map and compass are more reliable that route descriptions, it is always an adjustment when one’s “rest day” of 5.5 miles (Huron Peak) or 7.5 miles (Mount Massive) turn into epic looping hikes lasting many unbudgeted hours. Such is the beauty of getting lost and found in the mountains. By missing a strategically placed cairn on the trail, we ascended through the utterly picturesque valley of North Half Moon Creek and Lakes. Cascades, hummocked meadows pinpointed with wild flowers, and the smell of freedom greeted us. In this sylvan setting I became convinced of a little-known character akin to the tooth fairy or Easter bunny. Rather than dropping gifts and candy for children, the Cairn Fairy capriciously drops rocks in piles of varying size, complexity, and neatness. It seems the Cairn Fairy had visited the high meadows of North Half Moon Creek. Cairns everywhere! Rhyme? Reason? Only to those who’ve read the Da Vinci Code apparently. Perhaps if these cairns are connected in the correct sequence, a secret encrypted message is decoded? Such as: “This way to Mount Massive with an arrow!

Luckily, instincts and topographic map skills were too powerful for the wiles of the Cairn Fairy and we picked our way across snowfield and up gravel to appear on the ridge above the western slopes of North Mount Massive. 14er #1 for the day! The adventure must continue from there of course. Onto the Class 3 traverse! Up to Massive Green (#2) and the Massive summit (#3). Free from the Cairn Fairy’s follies, we skirted light raindrops and celebrated in high style! 14 14ers in 14 days! Done! Accomplished! Finis! With Holy Cross tomorrow as icing to top the project off (and to make the project’s new title: 15 14ers in 13 days!), we felt the euphoria of the summit magnified. Leaving lovely Mount Massive (really the opposite of Elbert in every way except size and location) was bittersweet. We feasted at Rosie’s Brew Pub in Leadville (try it if you haven’t been!), discussed the merits of the “humugous” 100 oz mug* at the Kum & Go and headed into the night and intense rain to Tigiwon and all that icing: Holy Cross!


I do not know this guy but it gives you an idea of how good the mug could be for hydrating!

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