29 September 2013

Special Places

This spring I bemoaned my own jadedness and assumed camp would never hold the same magic for me as it did last fall. 

I have been eating my words with gusto all month. 

This fall has been even better than last. I feel really close to so many people at camp and now, not only do I say yes with regularity, I also instigate once in a while. In September I've found myself in so many special places with special people. 

Doing a relay triathlon with two girls who got to experience the undeniable rush of the podium for the first time.

Riding up and down snow-dappled mountains with my favorite fellow masochist.

Partying with people who will get dressed up at the drop of a hat.

Celebrating a stunning eastern Sierras vista.

Enjoying an omelet on top of Tallac at sunrise.

Cruising to the hot springs in the most majestic of seasons.

11 September 2013

Comings and Goings

So the folks came to town, and Tyler left town.

Tyler got a job at Grand Teton Brewing Company, the most ideal of situations but rather more abrupt than I'd hoped, so he packed up and hightailed it to Victor, ID. I have two months of his absence to contend with before I too make the trek. He is already in love with the place. 

Meanwhile Mom and Dad spent a week at camp and embraced wholeheartedly all the best parts. Faculty lectures, kayaking, wine on the deck at sunset, Bill merrily identifying each exciting new kind of flora and fauna he encountered, Deb announcing she wanted to hike Tallac ASAP and accomplishing the feat with aplomb. Their presence and bright-eyed enjoyment of this lovely little place renewed some of my own wonderment, in remission for the past months and slightly soured. It was great having them here, and when I left them to their own devices and they traipsed around seeking adventures and playing outside, it was quite apparent where I get it from.
Taking on Tallac


Camp has several long-established institutions, some benign (floating the Truckee River), some hedonistic (initiation parties), and one so noble and ambitious I couldn't help but be intrigued: Penta or Heptapeak, in which an intrepid gang climbs five or seven of the 9700ft+ peaks clustered in Desolation. (To be fair, the first is a gentle 9200ft, but the rest more than make up for it.)

I thought I wouldn't have a chance but a week before everyone departed, Amelia (athletic, crazy) approached me about it. I said without hesitation, unequivocally, yes.

Now, the day after, I feel pummeled. What was previously just a head cold has solidified and congealed deep in my chest, my feet are wrecked, and at breakfast everyone was full of admiration.

Heptapeak was an experience that is impossible to verbalize. I have only vignettes. The sun rising over our shoulders and turning a nearby lake into a brilliant colored mirror as we trucked it up the initial climb. Leaving the trail at the top of peak one, not realizing we wouldn't encounter smooth ground again until the parking lot. Dying so many deaths as I dragged my pitiful body up yet another boulder field, while ahead my companions played an endless game of "would you rather?". The inexpressible joy of each summit, shockingly beautiful, the mountains and lakes spread infinitely below us in every direction, our conquests always visible behind us and our goals daunting before us. The gasping terror of downclimbs and timid footholds so far above the ground on knife ridges and granite monoliths, where wind and exhaustion and uncertainty dogged my every step.

Contemplating the first really stupid ridge
The overpowering sense of pride and accomplishment at the top of Tallac as the sun kissed each of the six other peaks (so tall, so distant) before taking its leave in a glowing pink fireshow.
Here's a partial record of it: http://www.strava.com/activities/81719225. After the Garmin died we probably climbed another 3500 feet and traveled maybe 25 miles total. Eighteen hours. Ralston-Pyramid-Agassiz-Price-Jacks-Dicks-Tallac. The incredible fortitude of the human body.