"...if you'd like to do a bit of high desert peaks with us, it would be a gas."
I nearly fell off my chair as I read the email from Bob Burd. Had I just been invited on one of his trips? Seriously? I mean, this guy's been everywhere, hiked everything, and written up the most amazing array of reports I know. Me? Really? I know nothing he was proposing was out of my league, but my nerves went into hyperdrive the moment I imagined being out there.
Then I remembered that I could read a map, judge weather and conditions, proficiently scramble, independently route-find, and move solidly at my own pace for hours and hours. What the hell was I worried about?
Hero worship aside, I had a blast with Bob, Bill Peters, and Adam Jantz. As we huddled in the Burd-mobile Friday night over brews, discussing wake-up call and driving options the next morning, I felt just as at home with these guys as with my other climbing companions. The only difference being that Bob's almost done with day-hiking the Sierra Peaks Section list, Adam has won the Under-25 group of the Sierra Challenge, and Bill holds the record for the most time out on the trail during the SC. Fighting back a bit of an inferiority complex, we strode out along the road leading to Mt. Jefferson Saturday morning.
Great, wide basins separate rugged, towering peaks. Snow capped ridgelines snake upwards towards 12K, wind-swept cornices double back on themselves where the rock dives down to briar-choked creeks. Temperature gradients dove precipitously along the top, soaring with a return to the desert floor. Pronghorn antelope pranced out of the way of the caravan as we cruised an hour between camp and the next "trailhead". Huge skies overhead filled with brushed clouds and sweeping virga. Rainbows of wildflowers in all directions between greenest sage. I even found, after a few hours reflection on the photo, found the Great Basin rattlesnake to be perfectly gorgeous.
Four peaks in three days, possibly more if you count all the bumps in the ridges. A chance to hike (in the vicinity of) a hero of mine, and to have him say, as he's hugging me goodbye in Austin Monday afternoon, "We'll do it again."
I'm still soaring.
A few highlights:
"Where'd you leave my boy?" --Bob Burd to me on the summit of Mt. Jefferson. I turned to see that Bill wasn't behind me anymore... oops...
The guys brought snowshoes. The only shoes that fit me were my trail runners, and I forgot both pairs of my snowshoes at home. The Posthole Queen triumphs again!
I swear the snake was sleeping, and I was glad none of the guys were around to watch me quiver and shake and cry as I tried to take pictures.
"Did I do OK today?" --Me, to Bob, after the first day. Sheesh, what a freakin' neub...
"Where'd you leave my boy?" --Bob, back at the car after Toiyabe Dome.
"Are we seriously discussing the risk assessment for mosquitos?" --Me, to Bill as we were getting eaten up at the base of Toiyabe Dome.
"I would have poked it with a stick." --Bob, after ogling my pic of the Great Basin rattler I came across on the descent of Toiyabe Dome.
"I'm not at all fast, just incredibly stubborn." -Me on the top of Bunker Hill.
"Bishop." --Me, in response to the locals' questions in the saloons of Belmont and Kingston. Guess who got our little group a little mountain cred... "mmm... Bishop... yeah, that's rugged..."
The guys are still out there all week, so I can't wait to hear of the rest of their adventures. To Bob, many thanks for such a grand opportunity. To Bill, I hope the color coding comes out OK. To Adam, I'm so glad I could finally make you smile. Hope y'all didn't get stuck in Floodville this week.
Pics are here
, and here
A link to Bob Burd's trip reports
A little slide show of the adventure.
From the luckiest girl in the world: Climb Hard, Be Safe.