|Getting some calories in the trees below Yale.|
The pace felt slow, but I had to remember that he had already been out for 16 hours. We moved steadily through the trees, but at treeline it was becoming obvious that he wasn't feeling well. He primarily was complaining that his headlamp was too tight and that his head was "one thousand degrees" even in the 40 degree air. I told him I had a pocket knife and I'd be okay cutting off his dreadlocks to cool his head down, that have surprised the crew at N. Cottonwood for sure! Halfway, up I turn around to look for him, and don't see his lamp, crap. I jog down a bit and find him resting head on hands on poles, we found a large boulder to get out of the wind and sit down for bit. Eventually, he decides to not nap and we finish up to the summit, gradually feeling better. The summit is completely entrenched in a cloud, occasional flakes of snow and drops rain are falling. We pass Julian and Jason (maybe) heading down a long descent over the northeastern ridge. Eventually back in the trees, we found ourselves on some absurdly steep dirt, 40-50 degrees I would say. "Heads up there is a rock coming your way!", Logan shouts. Unfortunately the long preface to the word "rock" mean that by the time I had processed it, the rock had already hit me in the back of the calf. There was a long bushwhack until we crossed a couple of creeks and found a trail. On the 2nd try, we headed the right direction and made it to the crew at North Cottonwood.
|An unbelievably beautiful morning trudging up Columbia. Yale (covered in clouds) looks about how it felt a few hours before.|
|Clouds gathering in Horn Fork Basin, Logan a few feet from gaining his 6th summit|
|Slowly making our way up Harvard, Rabbit Ridge can easily be seen on the ridgeline.|
|Logan negotiating the talus a few feet below the summit of Harvard.|
I happily unlocked the car, almost in disbelief at what had happened. Something I think is so cool is at the end of the day, no matter if it was a 4 mile walk or 36 hours of hell, you just get back to your car and your back in the civilized world like nothing happened. I charged my phone and texted my mom, hoping she hadn't filed a missing person report quite yet. I checked Logan's SPOT and saw he just made it up Huron, it was a tough night for those guys. After enough lounging I set off for Winfield to see him up La Plata, but after 20 minutes of driving I had to pull over and sleep for a bit. At 10AM Sunday, I had not slept aside from 15-20 minute naps since Friday morning at 7. I only slept for a couple hours before I felt rested enough to head to La Plata, he was past Winfield now and I would only be meeting him for the inevitable end at N. La Plata TH. I met up with the crew at the TH and shared my story and listened the stories of others who had started and dropped or crewed, it was fun. Jason came it first looking like he had just finished an easy 5K, followed an hour later by Logan who was mentally beat but physically alright. Julian came in happy to be done a few minutes later, all 3 finished 12 peaks in 60 hours, that is amazing.
Now days later, time away has dulled the pain. Was I just being a wimp on Oxford/Belford? Maybe I should have just hardened up and dealt, but maybe it was the right choice, I'll never know for sure. I do know that I should have hike to Clohesy Lake not back to my car, that would have spared me one the worst things I've ever experienced. What I did do was learn -- a lot. First, I'm trying all 14 next year. I learned a ton of the route this year, but I strongly believe there is better route in some spots. Aside from Princeton, Yale and Huron, the route is pretty easy to understand. I'm likening the experience to trying heroine, its not something you can just try and forget about. I want more, and I doubt I'll be able to push Nolans from my thoughts for a very long time. Labor Day 2016, I'll be ready at Fish Hatchery or Blanks Cabin, that my promise to myself.
Note: I haven't proofread this yet, and just wanted to publish it, sorry for any stupid remarks or grammatical errors, I'm still catching up on sleep!