It was tiring.
After hours of solitude, the gnats and flies that swarmed my delicious stink started taking on human characteristics and I’d often pause and listen, thinking their buzz was someone speaking to me. I just ignored them after a few false stops. They weren’t, after all, in my head and they weren’t instructing me to murder anyone so I knew I’d be fine. The trail seemed to go on forever and I spit out exhausted expletives pretty much from start to finish, though not out of frustration or discontent. You could easily replace my gasping “f” words with “hallelujahs” and understand the same appreciation. Pain aside, the mountains were so imposing and sheer that being among them was simply marvelous. That’s such an underappreciated word: marvelous. But they were marvels and I was overwhelmed by them.
Notice my stabilizing foot? Safety first.
The descent was as horrific as I expected. On the more shelf-like outcrops, I inched down on my clenched buttocks. For the more vertical spots, there was no way to avoid hugging the rock tightly and blindly lowering my feet to jutting fractures an inch wide. I did a lot of quiet reassuring on the way down. “Okay. Okay. It’s okay. Just don’t look down. You’re almost there. Who’s the man? Who’s the man, Carlos? You’re the man.” When I reached an acceptable level of injury, fear completely vanished and I made it to the bottom with hand-dusting bravado. “That wasn't so bad,” I thought. “I could probably even do it again!” I didn't, but I started my stroll down the mountain with a whistling strut. (I reached the basin a few hours later practically crawling with exhaustion (and I napped and read until the sun went down))
Scott drove by my campsite before total darkness and we kept each other company on the balcony of an employee lodge until I was too tired to keep my eyes open. A storm rumbled and lightning flashed all around the mountainous enclosure and with a heavy heart, I staked the heat-containing rainfly over my tent so I wouldn’t have to do it in the middle of the night, in the rain. I’d figure out my next hike in the morning.