Sunday, January 20, 2013

Jan 14 - 20

          The wind has gently murmured through the blinds, or puffed with feathery softness against the windows, and occasionally sighed like a summer zephyr lifting the leaves along, the livelong night. The meadow mouse has slept in his snug gallery in the sod, the owl has sat in a hollow tree in the depth of the swamp, the rabbit, the squirrel, and the fox have all been housed. The watch-dog has lain quiet on the hearth, the cattle have stood silent in their stalls. The earth itself has slept, as it were its first, not its last sleep, save when some street-sign or wood-house door has faintly creaked upon its hinge, cheering forlorn nature at her midnight work, - the only sound awake 'twixt Venus and Mars, - advertising us of a remote inward warmth, a divine cheer and fellowship, where gods are met together, but where it is very bleak for men to stand. But while the earth has slumbered, all the air has been alive with feathery flakes descending, as if some northern Ceres resigned, showering her silvery grain over all the fields.
         We sleep, and at length awake to the still reality of a winter morning. The snow lies warm as cotton or down upon the window-sill; the broadened sash and frosted panes admit a dim and private light, which enhances the snug cheer within. The stillness of the morning is impressive. The floor creaks under our feet as we move toward the window to look abroad through some clear space over the fields. We see the roofs stand under their snow burden. From the eaves and fences hang stalactites of snow, and in the yard stand stalagmites covering some concealed core. The trees and shrubs rear white arms to the sky on every side; and where were walks and fences, we see fantastic forms stretching in frolic gambols across the dusky landscape, as if Nature had strewn her fresh designs over the fields by night as models for man's art.
          Silently we unlatch the door, letting the drift fall in, and step abroad to face the cutting air. Already the stars have lost some of their sparkle, and a dull, leaden mist skirts the horizon. A lurid brazen light in the east proclaims the approach of day, while the western landscape is dim and spectral still, and clothed in a sombre Tartarean light, like the shadowy realms. They are Infernal sounds only that you hear, - the crowing of cocks, the barking of dogs, the chopping of wood, the lowing of kine, all seem to come from Pluto's barnyard and beyond the Styx, - not for any melancholy they suggest, but their twilight bustle is too solemn and mysterious for earth. The recent tracks of the fox or otter, in the yard, remind us that each hour of the night is crowded with events, and the primeval nature is still working and making tracks in the snow. Opening the gate, we tread briskly along the lone country road, crunching the dry and crisped snow under our feet, or aroused by the sharp, clear creak of the wood-sled, just starting for the distant market, from the early farmer's stubble; while far through the drifts of powdered windows we see the farmer's early candle, like a paled star, emitting a lonely beam, as if some severe virtue were at its matins there. And one by one the smokes begin to ascend from the chimneys amid the trees and snows. ~ Henry David Thoreau (opening excerpt from 'A Winter Walk')

The alarm sounds at 3:30am Saturday, I grab the gear, clothes, and shoes, and am in the car on the drive no more than five minutes later. Only fifteen minutes down the road the temperature gauge starts to soar, ugh you have to be kidding me. I pull over, check the coolant, and well, there is none. I dump the water I packed into the radiator and head back home. The driveway when I arrive shows pool that the coolant leaked out overnight. Defeated, I head back to sleep, I'll deal with fixing the car when the sun rises. Agitated I'm back up by 6:30am and tearing the car apart. After no more than 10minutes of work I have the radiator out and am scouring it to find the problem. Hit by a rock. Really? What luck. I had this same problem no more than 6 months ago. Two rocks, two radiators, two holes, what are the odds? So, I set to the computer to see if I can get my hands on a salvaged radiator, second one that is, but I'll have to wait til 8am to call the shops when they open. I call no less than five different yards til someone says they have the part, in stock, off the salvaged vehicle, and ready for pickup within the next hour. I hit the road, drive an hour to the place, and....they can't find the part they were so sure they had in stock an hour ago. Ok, no worries. I call the pops and have him call some more places to check for the part. He calls back within 10minutes and says a place and hour and a half north has the part, in stock, and is open til 3pm. So, I drive the 1hr30min north. They have the part, but for a automatic vehicle, not manual. No worries, the only difference is a line that runs through the bottom reservoir of the radiator to cool the transmission oil, but has no effect on installing it on a manual vehicle. So, I get the part and drive the 1hr15min home. Install the part in 10minutes, it's now 4pm and I've spent the day driving for 20min worth of work. I take the car for half hour drive down some back roads I've not driven in years to make sure the new radiator is working, and end up watching a satisfying sunset. Sunday, the alarm sounds at 330am and I hit the road in five minutes. Thankfully the radiator is working, I've got 4hrs to go til I hit the trailhead. Driving down a random, remote, two lane back road I get pulled over in the pitch dark at 5am on a sunday, 66mph in a 60 by the local sheriff, really you have nothing better to do? Whatever, I got a mountain to run, and a $50 dollar fine ain't guna ruin my day, nor tomorrow, I got bigger things to worry about that abiding the social customs of habit we've adopted within our society. Now, almost to the trailhead, at 630am, it's still dark, and there's...there's a dog in the middle of this back road. I stop, it bounds over, overjoyed to get the attention. I open the door, check to see if it has a tag, there's none, all the while the dog thinks it's time to jump in the car and go for a ride. There's plenty of houses in the immediate area so I assume it's just out for it's morning stroll like me. I tell my buddy to get out the road and run on home, and get on my way. Finally 7:30 and I'm on my way up the mountain. It's a sweet run up, I'll let the photos below do all the talking. When I get to Hanging Rock Vista, my original turn around point, I decide that rather than backtrack the way I came on the AT I'll take the Mau-Har trail to make it a loop back to the trailhead. I descend down the northside of Three Ridges and the 8in of powder has me giddy and full of energy. Not much later I start thinking I may have missed my turnoff. It's been much longer than it should have been. Unsure of how far I've gone, and uneasy about pushing forward, I decide I'll now backtrack adding whatever distance I've run to my now overall distance. Turns out I was no more than 50yards from reaching the trail and Maupin Field Shelter, but so it goes. Would it happen any other way? So, I tacked on and extra 3mi and 1100'. I slog back up in the snow, a constant ascent, past Hanging Rock Vista and to the summit of Three Ridges 3,970'. Suddenly just ahead there are two dogs no more than 50yards away. I beckon them to come over, and they take off the opposite direction up the trail like I'm sasquatch. I follow them but they get out of sight and I can't hear them either. I keep descending, taking notice that I'm really starting to run low on calories, though my motor skills are still honed, stride still smooth, and mind concentrated. I can hear barking ahead but still can't see the dogs nor any person. Weird. I should have passed a person by now if the dogs were following them because there is no way they're moving faster than I. The descent is fast but still has 1,750' of climbing over the 7miles from Hanging Rock. I make it back to the trailhead running on fumes and can feel I'm ready to super bonk, unexpectedly tacking on those extra miles and vert has taken it's toll with this calorie deficit. I down 20oz of Coke and no more than 10min later I'm feeling sky high. No dogs, and no other people in the parking lot, huh. I hit the road, window open, sweatpants, sans shirt and shoes, what a beautiful day. I stop to get gas, and drop the gas cap. It rolls away 10 feet to the front of another pump. I start pumping gas, with it in mind to pick the cap up while the gas is pumping. Suddenly a car pulls up and runs the cap over, it literally explodes, shattered, as if it was run over by a car. They ask "was that yours?", I reply "Nope" with a sarcastic smirk that seems like a serious answer to them. What a weird string of luck, though, the only thing that mattered was how much I enjoyed getting out in the mountains, everything else just felt like baggage. I splurge on a sub, candy bar and soda, I'm feeling starved and the food does the trick. Hours of driving and back home, all I can think is "whew I need to sleep in til at least 6am after all this". Life only passes when you're not looking.

All pics taken with the super compact Sony.

Bridge over the Tye River on the AT at the base of Three Ridges and The Priest.

Looking up from near the base of Three Ridges at The Priest 4,051' colored with morning light.

Mountain Laurel lined trail on the lower half of Three Ridges.
View of Three Ridges summit 3,970' illuminated by morning light from below the first ridge.

Looking down Harpers Creek with The Priest 4,051' visible in the far distance.

The Priest 4,051' from a rock outcropping near the lower ridge of Three Ridges 3,790'.

Rock illuminated by the rising sun and shadowy trees.

Three Ridges 3,970' to the right seen from just below the second ridge ascending the AT.

View north from the second ridge at 3,204', with the summit of Three Ridges 3,970' to the left.

Rocky trail on the last push to the summit.

8in of snow just below the summit looking back down the AT south.

A serene snow blanketed summit of Three Ridges 3,970'.

The Priest 4,051' as seen from Hanging Rock Vista 3,750' just west of Three Ridges 3,970'.

The ridge,  just ascended, of Three Ridges 3,970' with its summit just left out of frame, seen from Hanging Rock Vista 3,750'.

Vast view from Hanging Rock Vista 3,750' with The Priest 4,051' just right of center.

Descending the north side of Three Ridges with 8in of fun and fresh powder.

On the move with a determined descent.

Descending down the ridge-line with The Priest 4,051' in the distance.

Looking back at the summit of Three Ridges 3,970' up the ridgeline.

Descending down the ridgeline of Three Ridges with The Priest right of center.

Get with the energy.

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