02 July 2009

When It Rains

A pretty impressive storm rolled in last night. I don't recall ever seeing lightning out here in years past, but I've never really seen much rain here, for that matter. I saw in the newspaper this morning that we were due for another set of afternoon thunderstorms, but that didn't seem to provide enough motivation for us to get moving and out sooner.

I'll just have to be perfectly honest. I had a panic attack today. It wasn't the sky to ground lightning splitting the scene in front of us as we drove. It wasn't the hail that beat on my car while we sat in the parking area waiting for the storm to pass or what seemed to be a thin layer of ice covering all of the car windows. The attack was a direct result of the treacherous 9.6 mile drive up to our hike for the day.

Rich is not a careful driver. I had the horrible luck of sitting in the passenger seat as he drove way too fast (15 mph) up a gravel road that was frequently only wide enough for one car and had sharp turns that eliminated all ability to see if a car was coming toward us. On several occasions, the tires on the right side of the car were no more than a foot away from a 2,000 ft. drop off. Rich kept claiming that if we were run off of the road, the Aspens would stop the car. The Aspens! These are not Sequoias or Redwoods. Spindly, pathetic (although beautiful) Aspens. Bah. The 9.6 miles might as well have been 175 miles. It just never seemed like we were going to get there. And then I started to get really sick, which is the lovely side-effect of the panic attack. And I can't be convinced that my hair wasn't very near igniting. When we finally got to the parking area and the hail started coming down, I had to decide if I could calm myself down or if I should just rush out of the car into the downpour to evacuate everything I've eaten in the last few days. Fear of the lightning convinced me to calm down.

Once the storm passed over, I was feeling worn out from all of my emotional exertion, but I was ready for a good hike. Our goal was to make the saddle between Mt. Boreas and Mt. Baldy. The ultimate elevation was 12,176 ft. The wildflowers were magnificent. I can't count how many varieties we saw, and the best part was that most of the wildflowers grow right along a mountain stream. The trail keeps to the stream then entire way. So we had the soothing sound of the water and the stunning flowers to keep our minds off of our pounding hearts. Each time we turned around, we caught our breath while gazing at the mountain panorama. Worth the drive up? I'm still not sure.

I had this great idea that we would do this hike today and then another day return to summit Mt. Baldy at 13,600+ feet another day. I'm sure I could make the summit without too much difficulty, but how am I going to get up that horrible road again?

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