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Stopping at the bottom of the gully, I survey the climb in front of me. The path nearly disappears into the bleached white slope with the icy holes left in the snow by previous mountain wanderers being my only means of navigation, I plot my course one literal step at a time. I place my feet into each hole as if I am walking a set of stairs made of an unknown strangers staggering footsteps. I can see the places where their boots slipped on the rocks below the snow and their hand prints where they caught balance on the frozen bank. As I progress I begin to think of the tracks as if I was being lead up the mountainside by a ghost.
The path quickly begins to climb while you side step jagged granite teeth and tree roots fighting to reclaim the trail. Each step having to be meticulous while at the same time completely spontaneous as we struggle through steep switchbacks. The distance to the top is only four miles long but you climb nearly a thousand feet in elevation for every mile gained. Using my altimeter on my watch to track our progress, we realize that we could only climb about 100 feet in elevation before the burning in our legs beam too much and forced us to halt our progress and give our legs time to catch up. Sometimes these breaks resulted in one or both of us sprawled across the rocky trail, asking a higher power, “why the f*** and I doing this?!” which was only answered by more trail to climb
My eyes struggle to open as the chirping of what sounds like the loudest crickets on the planet wakes me from deep, dreamless sleep. It’s the alarm on my phone, 4:30 am. I slide myself out of bed trying to fully remember why i was too excited to sleep for this last night. I fumble to find the bathroom light, rubbing my eyes like I’m trying to adjust binoculars to look at the sun. The half assed shower does its best to wake me up but to little aid, in its defense i wasn’t doing my part. By the time I’m dressed and in the car I’m only slightly aware of my actions, it’s as if my body knows what i want to do but my mind is still trying to hibernate. As the wheels start to turn down the interstate so do the gears in my head. Energies slowly restoring as my mind settles in on todays goal, I’m heading north to climb a mountain.