With the light fading my motorcycle was met with an impassible barrier. My strong sense of curiosity led me to dismount and hike my camping supplies a little further in. The Mercury was dropping precipitously as I lugged my baggage to a suitable campsite just over 15,000' of elevation and hurriedly assembled my tent. The wind here was insufferable, and my habitation was thrashed about mightily. I worried that in this onslaught my tent wouldn't hold up, but it proved my fears unfounded. Though noisy, the Kelty Zenith 2 remained structurally sound ($60 at Target).
My strides, though forced at first, grew lighter as I went, and upon cresting the rise overlooking my camp I was greeted by the sight of a glacier covered cirque which acted as a saddle, connecting the lines of mountains to each side of me. Though still feeling ill, I came to the conclusion that my long awaited, and seemingly elusive, hiking trip was to be made today. I filled my water bottle from the stream at the base of the glacier and began my ascent.
At first, my idea was to skirt the left side of the ice formation, climbing my way up to the low point of the ridge and then hike up to one of the surrounding peaks. However, the glacier proved difficult to deal with and my plan was changed. Rather than first reaching the top of the saddle and moving on to the peak I would just just climb directly to the top. This approach wound up taking most of the
day. Careful consideration for routes and holds were required, and points of rest were frequent. Eventually, I did make it to the top, which didn't quite reach 18,000 ft, but the view was still very nice. The adjacent peaks were much higher, and didn't require the sort of climbing endured to get to this point, but with the sun beginning to set, and only water and cameras in my pack, I went off in search of a reasonably safe slide back down the mountain in order beat the sub freezing temperatures to my tent.
Following another rough night camping, I once again rose with a splitting head ache. Slowly I packed away my camp and hiked back to the bike.