Challenge Three: The 14er

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Challenge number three was a biggy, it was without a doubt the hardest challenge of the four challenges of this trip —challenge number three was tackling Windom Peak. We woke at about 4:30 am and our group of seven headed out right around 5 am. We did the same hike that half of the group had done the day before to the Twin Lakes. I don’t know if is because it was dark or because I knew this part would be the easiest even though I was repeating but the hike wasn’t as bad as the day before. We stopped for a quick snack at the lakes and then started the journey of which way to we go. We really struggled with figure out the correct path. This was the only 14er that I was ever attempting that had a decent amount of scrambling/climbing and on those types of mountains the path isn’t as clear. We were told just follow the cairns, well we are happy to report there are a lot of them. We tried to follow the cairns but at some point decided to just start going up on the route we thought looked the easiest. This is where we lost our first person; Candace had a shoulder injury so when she say how much climbing was involved she decided to sit it out.

For Windom Peak there are basically two ways to get to the top, the way we went which was through the basin between Windom and Sunlight then climbing or you could do a longer more gradual climb on the right side still aiming for the saddle. Either way you go you will be doing about Class II scrambling.

The six of us continued on till we came to the saddle between Windom and Jupiter which was one of the couple of false peaks. At this point is when the climbing became scary and if you had a fear of heights you would have a really difficult time. I felt like I could fall off the mountain at any point and constantly had to try to keep myself calm. This is where we lost three more: Kara, Karen and Moses.

John, Nolan, and I decided to overcome our fears and kept going slowly but surely and made it to the summit. The feeling of accomplishment on top was amazing but couldn’t over come the fear that I felt. The pictures do a pretty good job of showing how narrow the top boulders we were on were. I could barely stand, but I took in every bit of the view from 14,088 feet and at that moment I had so many different perceptions; I felt strong, short of breath, and not able to connect thoughts around the beauty I was experiencing, it was incredible.

After that moment I wanted down and realized how long I had till I was so called “down” and the scrambling began again! We were reunited with the group and hiked back to the lakes and then to our camp for our last night.

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Look at the previous posts on Challenges One and Two

Challenge Two: Day Hike to Twin Lakes

Challenge One: The Hike In

Coolest Hot Springs Ever

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About a month ago now, I had my first experience with back packing. I never imagined that carrying one night’s worth of stuff would be hard but I was wrong. Luckily on the way back I had lost some weight in wine, cheese, sausage, pumpkin bars, etc. Clearly I might not be an official backpacker considering I “had” to bring all of those items but even now looking back I would have carried them again.  Tthe pumpkin bars though, that is kind of a funny story, let me explain. I thought, how perfect would a pumpkin bar be while camping? Amazing! So the night before I left I was running behind and started baking at 10 pm when I was getting up at 3 am to leave. I was rushing through the recipe and then popped then in the oven to bake. I took them out 30 minutes later and they look amazing. I let them cool and packed them up. I decided, though I don’t normally, I should try one now. Thank goodness I did. I took my first bite and immediately felt a burn on the back my throat and thought, well I bought new cloves maybe that is it? But the burn intensified and in about 30 seconds my entire mouth was on fire. What the heck?! Then I looked at my spice jars…I had accidently grabbed the cayenne pepper jar instead of the cinnamon jar. Worst baking fail ever. I was in such denial I actually still planned on packing them. I realized that when you are camping water is scarce because you have to filter it so the idea of feeding people cayenne pepper bars I decided was cruel. I sadly left them in my fridge thinking I really hope my roommate doesn’t try them.

For this hike I had the hook up; it might be my commitment issues or maybe just that I am cheap but I didn’t want to buy anything for the hike because I thought maybe this will be a one time think. My friend Alyssa had my back: clothes, sleeping bag, sleeping pillow, sleeping pad, back pack, head lamp…like I said the hook up. She even made me a survival kit that had bandaids, paper you can write on even if its wet, coffee, and of course vodka.

I guess I should finally tell you which hike it was, the conundrum hike to the hot springs, which was 8.5 miles each way. I knew it would be tough but man the last mile was rough. When we got to the camp site it was like seeing heaven.  We set up our tents and then headed to the hot springs; the entire reason for doing this hike. This is when the sausage, cheese, and wine came into play. There was a rock that we used as a table and we called it “appetizer island.” Everyone in the springs gave us some interesting looks but once we offered them a taste they understood why appetizer island must become a “thing” at the springs from now on. I could not imagine sitting in the one of the worlds highest natural hot springs without munster cheese washed down with malbec…could you?

I ended up with bruised hips from the backpack and blisters on my feet but it was all worth it for the view of the sky at night so far from city lights. I have never seen anything like it.


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