Friday, November 8, 2013

Mountain Man

I spent last weekend hiking in the mountains of Nevada with Brad Graff, a friend from college.  We call this annual get-together “Mountain Man,” as we attempt to test our fitness with four days in a row of vigorous, all-day hikes.  We usually seek out places with no trails, using cairns and written guides from other hikers.  

I love the feeling of struggling up a steep mountain, then being rewarded at the top with a view that makes me feel so small.  The ego and drive that got me to the top drift away with the wind, and I sit quietly for a while, appreciating what a beautiful world we live in. 

We do get lost on these hikes from time to time.  We’ve always found our way back, although sometimes after the sun has gone down.  The trick is to be prepared with extra layers, rain gear, a compass, lights, etc.  

When climbing back down from Hayford Peak, we spent the final hour hiking in the dark.  At first we used our lights to find our way down the rocky wash.  Then we turned them off and looked up.  The Milky Way was painted overhead, and there were so many stars visible that they made it harder to make out the major constellations.  We found the Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, and Orion's Belt.  But most remarkable of all was a bright light shining just over the canyon wall to our left.  At first we thought it was a plane.  When it didn't move, we speculated that it must be a lighted tower.  But it was actually Venus, brighter than I've ever seen.  When we left the summit that afternoon, I had worried about getting "stuck" out in the dark.  But this experience turned out to be one of the most memorable moments of the weekend.  Sometimes the greatest joy can come simply from looking up.
Here are some pics:
Hiking up Hamblin Mountain

Brad Graff hiking on Hamblin Mountain

View from top of Hamblin Mountain

Hiking up Mt. Charleston

Hiking up Mt. Charleston

Hiking up Mt. Charleston.  Near the top, there was about 8 inches of snow

This bristlecone pine tree on Mt. Charleston may be over 5,000 years old

From the top of Hayford Peak

Red Rock Canyon from the top of Turtlehead Peak

The top of Turtlehead Peak

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