Friday, October 12, 2012

10/8/2012 Tumbledown with ____ in mind.

I didn't know Chris, but there are a lot of other really cool dead people that I think about, often.  Raz.  Tim Lafollette.  Mr. Lee.  Josie.  Joel, who said, "I will try to live simply and effectively and hope that my life will stand as a measure of the love I feel for the people I know and the place I live," shortly before ending his life in 2008, near his 25th birthday.  In honor of them, all of them, and all the others who I've known and who I haven't, we climb hills, just like Anselm Hollo recommends.

A mighty little flock of Monsterfolk had planned to meet up at the Tumbledown trailhead but didn't, so I picked the steep one and parked.  It was shortly before 11am by the time I hit the trail.  I brought too much water and other junk but I like the feel of a pack with some heft to it.  It's like a false yet tangible sense of wearable purpose.  I was concerned that I had missed my friends, and sad for not having their delightful company, but I was also climbing a fabulous mountain in Maine, at the very best time of year, and thinking good thoughts toward the aforementioned people of the past.

The rocks are engaging and steep, but not overwhelming.  The right heel remained very tender, so I brought two poles.  I always figure that poles can always double as crutches (ever the optimist!) so they can be good to have.  I used only one until it started to rain, and then the packcover didn't fit well over a pole on my pack, so I used two poles for a while.  Unfortunately this was at a part that was technical enough that I should have been using just hands.

The rain didn't last.  As I entered the passage with the rungs, I encountered a group who asked if I was alone, and would I like some help with the tricky area.  I thanked them; they were kind enough to stand by but I didn't end up needing anything. They did grab and chuck the silly poles for me, though, which was totally frosting. 

It was good not to be alone for the steepest bit.  If I ever somehow seem fearless, it's a facade.  I'm not.

Also I was wearing the Hokas, which, in all their hugeness, aren't the best for navigating rock scramble type areas.  They squish when you try to perch and sometimes are just too big to fit in small footholds or on edges.  Marshmallows obliterate tiny grahams.

The tread is incredibly aggressive, lending confidence at times.  I was less confident that I wouldn't roll an ankle.  I stepped carefully.  Big Brad Ultras are not two weeks away.  There is still hope that Unstrung will run some amount of it.  Inshallah. 

Near the T junction of the West Peak spur and the path to the lake, another person was right behind me.  She looked youngish.  She said this was her first solo hike, and asked if I was alone.  She asked me a lot actually -- did I do it often, did I also backpack alone, did I come to Tumbledown a lot?

As I wished her well, I headed to the West Peak as I'd never actually been up there.   It's a really cool, open, and understated little summit.  

Natural habitat for rugged Scout
The spur is very short, and I was up and back to the junction in probably 15 minutes max.  I headed for the lake.  Though the West Peak was vacant, there are always, and were, quite a few people around the lake.  I scanned the area for the beautiful and already-familiar sage green 2012 BadAss hoodies, just in case I hadn't totally missed the flock.
I meandered on the granite ledges, taking some pics, going on and off the trail, and marveling at how it almost didn't matter.  The area has seen such an onslaught of use.  I worried about the lichen and such, probably more than I should have.

Chris may live here now.
Suddenly, hopping up over a boulder, I saw and heard the unmistakable Force of Nature that is Val!   And Squirrel, Pete and Tim were close by, too.

 Elation.  Laughing.  Excellent conversing.  Disproportionate consideration of Hoka.

Squirrel is always very serious, all the time.
 I am so thankful for great people and mountains.  It's definitely the best combination.

Plenty of striations draw the eye

Many directions...

I love that we are strewn about the forest.
I also love that the forest is strewn about itself.  The trees, disrobed, yet unabashed, feel just a bit more free.


  1. Love the photos! Sounds like the perfect hike - some time alone to ponder and some time to enjoy the beauty with friends!!

    1. I wish it had been a week long. Other than that, it was extremely perfect. :)

  2. Love it! True words inspired by an awesome day on a mountain...!

    1. Thanks Tim, it was great to hike with you! How is the stress fracture situation? Hope it wasn't too aggravated by hikeage.


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