Vad vet du om att vara en Kompis?
Humbled by the Clan of Exceptionals who bless my life.
Friends celebrate adventures; real friends share them.
Jason AwesomePants, for example, woke at sparrow-fart to meet Coati & I for breakfast and helped execute a vehicle drop-off maneuver which required some technical driving, once past Spruce Creek Trailhead.
Both of these boys are Colorado grown and didn’t spill so much as a sip of coffee.
By 7:45 Jason dropped us off at McCullough Gulch Trailhead, some 2 miles past the rows of cars of Quandry Summit Seekers. Coati and I headed up the ‘quiet for a Saturday’ McCullugh Gulch Trail, a steady old road climb, nothing too terribly exposed or strenuous. Following onto the trail and up alongside the waterflow, quickly breaking tree line. Still following a clear trail, we passed along the north side of the long shallow lake which occupies this particular drainage.
At the rise just above the lake, we went through a secret portal which was so narrow, we had to pass packs through separately.
Life up here is no nonsense; it stays low to the ground and bursts with an evanescent beauty. Pools team with life. Sea-Monkey like wrigglies swim about in small pools. Joe, of Wilderness Rocks, knows what they are called.
Then we climbed into the austere places, and began taking compass bearings in earnest.
Let’s check the map again. Contrasting contour lines against what
reared up lay before us.
Not encouraged at the sound of rock slides from on high.
Encouraged to spot they were set off by three  intrepid climbers who had made it above the snow.
Footprints are reminders that “this is not impossible.”
As happens more often than not, found myself inducting a friend to terrifying terrain navigation.
Then to the saddle, a ridge off-shoot from the Continental Divide; into the realm of gods. To the west, the earth resumed some several thousand feet below, to Climax Mine’s altruistically titled ‘tailing ponds‘.
Turn to the north and climb along and over an arm of Pacific Peak into a tucked-away, high-reaching haven. Pacific Tarn, cupped by inexorable challenges, at 13,420 ft stands as the highest name-recognized lake in the United States.
There, held in glorious naivete, the water is pure and frigid cold. From here it begins the journey to the seas, thousands of miles away.
Pacific Peak nestled us close, encircling stony arms with grandfather-like benevolence.
We ate lunch and played ukulele ditties to the birds and the breezes, watching a stream spill into oblivion.
We checked maps and set out for the descent, only to find ourselves betrayed; for you see, the lettering on the map obscured where contour lines jammed together, denoting a cliff.
On the other hand, once we realized this, it made us feel more comfortable with the particular loose-rock face we ended up clambering down.
The trick with terrain like this is to stop long enough to gather yourself but not long enough to look down.
Eventually, we made it, with only minor abrasions. From this side, Pacific Peak presented a very different face.
Once on solid ground we all but tore across the easing terrain.
Banks of rock, gave way to collars of green studded stone, melted into rolling fields of tufted green, became the meadows of Mohawk Lakes. Into the terrain of fishermen; Coati’s domain.
We made camp by Lower Mohawk Lake, feasted, and reveled in all due “we made it alive!” glory. Trail Pad Thai and s’mores for dinner over a tiny fire, beneath a blood-orange full moon.
Trail food fact- make it at home. I swear to you, you won’t want to be sauteing and searing and blending in camp.
I laud every single one of them for the thousands of vertical feet of ascent to glimpse/photograph/fish the lakes; old and young, chipper and grumpy, loud and quiet alike; I’m just saying, there were tons of folk out, especially for a Monday.
Our momentum was a force to be reckoned with. Once you relinquish the adventure and start toward home, you give it your all, as you’ve got nothing more or less to give. Stopping at the only remaining habitable cabin (the rest were sans roof) to pick up trash which had begun to be scattered about by passers-through.
Coati generously volunteered to carry it out.
I call this Trash-Packing and consider it a form of trail maintenance.
Choose friends for their willingness to take on adventure,
marvel at Spirits which withstand pressure.
Choose trails that get you out there,
push beyond to what you seek.