Larger Than Life

Yesterday afternoon, I made plans with a friend to hike up the Midnight Dome. We thought the hike would take two to three hours, but became emboldened the higher we went and ended up taking the incredibly long, hard, and dangerous route that involved some mountain climbing. Departure was 6PM and we made it back to my car at MIDNIGHT!!!

Being the idiot with lack of foresight that I am, I didn’t bring my camera, figuring that, heh, I’ve been to the top of the Dome before. AUGH!!! My friend had her camera, so hopefully I’ll be able to snag some pics from her. If that’s the case, I’ll publish an update to this post.

So, the first part of the hike was easy, one I’ve done several times before; Ninth Ave trail to the Lookout. From there, we proceeded to the Slide, which is where things became ‘fun’ (depending on your definition of fun. We had a jolly good time. 😀 ).

Crossing the Slide first meant picking our way across a huge field of loose boulders that took out a part of the trail. My friend took point and we would periodically stop to reassess our position and make sure we were still heading for the proper trail. We finally made it across and eventually came to a sign that said “Alternate route (straight up), original route with slide area (ahead). My friend decided she wanted to do the ‘original’ and I was just glad to get some real hiking under my belt, the kind that is foolish to do on your own.

We picked our way across the trail, which was very narrow and loose in parts, and reached the first of what turned out to be two slides. Imagine a wall of dirt that is practically at 90 degrees with just a few solid foot and hand holds lost among loose rock forming a very narrow ledge across. My friend got across very quickly and I ventured out there. Halfway, I ran out of obvious holds and my acrophobia started to take over. I was advised to go up and around, but there was no way I was going up; it would just mean a longer fall! I don’t know how long I clung to the cliff purposely sending rocks down until I got to a solid layer. I then took a leap of faith and before long found myself back on solid ground. I felt very accomplished, but that was not fun and I won’t pretend it was. We agreed that it was foolish. At the same time, though, I was glad to have had such an experience since it taught me that I am master of my acrophobia and not vice versa.

Not long after, we noticed people up on a point of land above us waving. My friend joked: “I wonder if they came this way or if they’re wondering what the heck we’re doing here!” When we came to another slide area, almost as bad as the first, we were glad to have witnesses who could quickly report our demise if necessary. 🙂 We made it across that second slide and continued picking our way along until we reached the point of land where the group was resting. We gave them a proper warning about going the way we came and also got advice on the correct route to the summit.

The rest of the way up sucked. 🙂 It was just a very steep, never ending trek up one mountain, across a ridge, and up a second to the top of the Dome. Thankfully, all the reading I’ve been doing about the Chilkoot made the pessimist in me expect a false summit when the trail leveled off, so I wasn’t shocked when we started to climb back up. 🙂 I am grateful for this climb, though, because it was the longest I’ve gone without reaching any bit of flat, allowing me to discover that my boots and socks are capable of giving me blisters (on my heels). I didn’t develop any there (just hot spots), but I now know that a blister kit won’t be excess weight on the Chilkoot!

Reaching the summit was very satisfying. 🙂 We had a snack, a conversation, and a rest, then we headed back down the road. We would have been happy to hitch a ride, but no one was out and about that late in the day. It was midnight when we got back to the car and I took a few extra minutes to drop her off at the pub. I would have loved to go in for a pint and a dram, but I needed to be up at 6:30 today!!!

Now that I know that I am in good enough shape for the Chilkoot, I am going to seriously ease off the training. We leave for Skagway a week from tomorrow (!!!) and I don’t want to risk injuring myself. Moreover, I am absolutely exhausted so it will be good for me to rest a bit beforehand. Work is keeping me limber enough. 🙂

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