Sunday, May 13, 2012

That One Where We Went Rock Climbing

Funny story.

I’m actually writing this post on a Word document as we hurtle down the highway heading up North.

I don’t have an internet connection, so I figured that I would start writing now, and then post it when we reached our destination. Nine or so hours in a car can tend to get monotonous ((is it bad that when I look at that word I go ‘is the sequence bonded and monotonic?? Can I prove it’s convergent??’ Yup. That’s bad. Cal II has officially taken over my brain)) so to break up the boredom I decided to go through my photos and edit them.

We spent our few days of freedom, squashed between the end of finals and graduation, fully becoming true Hendrix students—aka nature loving hippies. I love Hendrix, but I noticed that after a year of living there, I’ve been changed. Walking barefoot is no big deal; I turn off lights whenever I leave a room; I use the terms ‘yeah man’ and ‘dude’ way more than I should (it’s a wonder my friends haven’t staged an intervention yet). Suffice to say, Hendrix is slowly turning me into a hippie.

Anyway! So, my friends and I were sitting around, wondering how to spend our days of freedom.

‘Hey man, don’t you think it’d be fun to climb Pinnacle?’ I suggested. Climbing Pinnacle, a nearby small mountain, was something that I had wanted to do for a while. I had seen a couple pictures on Facebook of someone who had climbed it and it looked beautiful. What was not pictured was the hellish ascent of deadly rocks that it took to reach the beautiful overlook.

So, blissfully ignorant, we set off, loading my car full of people and heading towards Pinnacle. We set off rather late—but doing the math in my head I figured we would have enough time to get up and down before sunset. Of course, this math in my head figured in an easy, quick jaunt up the mountain. We arrived at the mountain with semi-good hiking shoes and high hopes. What was notably missing was water bottles and realistic expectations.

It started off deceptively easy. The signs made no sense so we just picked a path a direction at random and started off. We were on level ground, circling the base of the mountain. There was a cool wind, and the verdant trees offered amply protection from the falling sun—the weather was perfect for a hike.

The trail wasn’t overly difficult—but it was tricky. Rocks and tree roots were strewn across the path, just waiting to catch your foot, twist your ankle. So it became a bit like driving—take your eyes off the path and you might end up tripping and falling. Since my eyes were forced to scan the ground, I spotted this beautiful luna moth. It made such a convincing leaf that I had to point it out to my friends, whose eyes merely passed over it.

Since it was dead, it was really easy to photograph—a morbid side effect.

When the trail continued to stay more or less level, we started to get worried. When were we going to start going up? We hurried along, expecting the trail to gently start rising. We finally reached the turn to began to lead us up the mountain and eagerly we pressed on. The path became slightly challenging—steeper than it had been but overall not too difficult. Happy that we were finally going uphill we continued up the winding trail.

And that is when, after a non-assuming bend in the dirt path, things got a little complicated.

The gentle incline stopped abruptly, and we were faced with a steep, rocky hill, with no end in sight. The slope wasn’t vertical but it was a formidable 35/40 degree incline. The rocks were large and for the most part, steady and held our weight. There were some parts where I had to use my hands for leverage and pull myself up. Other times I had to wedge my foot in a crack to hoist myself up on another rock. Scattered on the rocks were strips of red and white—trail markings.

We started off with such confidence and zip in our step—after all, how much further would we have to climb?

Thirty minutes later we stopped, panting as we leaned against the rocks.

The view was beautiful and made us forget about the bruises, the aching muscles, and the dry throats. We seemed fairly high up—we couldn’t be far from the top. A couple of guys were picking there was down, and we asked them if we were close to the top.

They laughed. ‘Oh, you’re about halfway there,’ they said with a smile, continuing on down.

Sighing, we resigned ourselves to more strenuous climbing, and continued on. After more swearing, sweating, complaining, and wistful thinking of water, we finally reached the top. Where I promptly collapsed on the rock and spread my arms out, catching the cool breeze.

I couldn’t stay lying down for long though—I had to see the view. I actually took a panorama-- I'll have to post it later!

Suffice to say, the view was worth the crazy ascent.

While the setting sun made for beautiful golden rays that danced across the land, it also served as a warning. Wait too long, and tempt fate by climbing down the mountain in the dark.

So, with only a couple of minutes spent catching our breath, we continued down. The path we used to get down was a different one—one that was drastically easier than the path we took to get up.

If only those signs had made sense we could have skipped the whole rock climbing bit. Though, I have to say, while I might complain about the rocks, and show off bruises, it was fun, in a challenging sort of way.

We took a second to catch our breath and I whipped out my camera to capture the beautiful light of magic hour reflecting off of my friend’s face.

We hurried down the easy path which should’ve been labeled ‘beginners’ in bright red paint at the very start of the trail.

With shaky legs and tired bodies, we finally came full circle and reached the parking lot. Collapsing into the car ((okay, maybe that was just me; the others took off running at the sight of a water fountain)) we set our sights on dinner—Chinese food.

Michael, who was from the area, directed us to this little hole-in-the-wall authentic Chinese restaurant. It was tucked away in the corner of an Asian supermarket hidden at the end of a dark strip mall. We parked in the mostly deserted parking lot and made our way in, getting there just in time to get food before they closed.

Cheap, authentic, and delicious—a perfect way to cap our night. =)

No comments:

Post a Comment