Thursday, September 10, 2009

Elemental Spirits

I love to spend the summer walking with friends. I roll out of bed early, pull on shorts and a tank top, put my hair into a ponytail and head out the door. My walking partners love me even without makeup or deodorant as long as I bring my sense of humor. We chat about dogs, school, men, the weather, flowers, our weight, shopping, family, clothes, travel, book, work--pretty much everything under the Nevada sky--while we get our exercise on our local trails. All good things must come to an end though--even if temporarily until another summer vacation arrives. This year we celebrated a summer of friendship by hiking to the summit of Mount Rose.

On the twisty drive up to the trailhead, I remembered the horrendous headache I'd suffered on my last hike to the summit. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other on the five-mile hike back down to our cars. What in the world was I thinking to suggest we do it again?! What if I got another headache? I noticed the American flag at the Chevron station was flapping full out--I hadn't even checked the weather report. If it was that windy at five thousand feet, what was it going to be like at the almost-eleven-thousand foot summit?! My stomach started to knot up. I decided to focus on having a wonderful day--starting with drinking yet another liter of water on the drive so I wouldn't have to carry it in my pack and enjoying the mountain scenery.

The drive was beautiful, my pack was light, we met up in the parking lot and headed out over granite and through pine forest. It wasn't long before we caught glimpses of Lake Tahoe thousands of feet below us while enjoying the birdsong and sunshine peeking through the trees. It also wasn't long before I started to sneeze and cough. Yep, hayfever lurks and I was really glad I'd taken my allergy pills and a sinus tab just in case.

The little Galena Creek waterfall provided a welcome mid-hike rest and a view of the summit above us. Water is such a calming element.

Doesn't look far, does it?
Whoops, used the zoom! Maybe we do have quite a ways to go yet.

We survived the stretch up to the saddle (always my least favorite part) and the switchbacks weren't bad with frequent stops to calm our heartbeats and catch our breath. Then we rounded a corner and the wind was suddenly breath-taking (literally) as we ascended above the treeline. On the shaly exposed trail, I found myself lurching a bit like a drunken sailor with a wide stance as gusts tore at me.

And then...sudden quiet as we reached the summit. The rock shelters deflected the winds and the sun warmed us while we ate our lunch at ten thousand feet and then posed for the obligatory photo shoot with wide smiles and Lake Tahoe behind us.Alas, one walking partner was working at the Rib Cookoff and couldn't come, but our uncomplaining husbands tackled the summit with us. Nothing left but an easy hike off the mountain and good memories.

Water, wind, and earth--everything but fire, thankfully.
Did I mention I seem to have brought a little earth home with me?

Note to self: Next year, get in shape early enough to tackle Mount Rose earlier in the season to avoid hayfever. And bring Kharma along on the hike!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a great hike and a beautiful view! I love doing trails like this that are moderate but still fun.