We spent a good part of yesterday (today, maybe?) coming down the south side of Donahue Pass. Lots of snow to cross.
Then to make it all the more fun, I should have stayed farther west and high (higher than I was, sort of) but I ended up getting lost in a myriad of grassy islands and clear, rushing, deep, currents.
The “Professor” here, managed––backpack and all, to make an amazing leap across a section of stream. I suppose it was his day to defy water and gravity.
My getting lost cost us a good hour of sunshine. We continued on, but elected not to go very far. We ended up on a boggy plateau with really bad trees. We looked forever (about 45 minutes) as the sun sank lower and lower––leaving us in the dark, but showering the far off peaks with a dreamy golden/pink sunset.
I woke up around two a.m. totally parched and went to get some water––the moon, as big and clear as every night up here.
Reading back over this entry, I think, so few words, for such a crazy day. This was really my “Get to know Skot” time.
We’d spent the night before together, buzzed (me anyway) and getting a giggle out of every flicker of starlight and I no doubt ranted on in about a hundred directions, but it was a magical night and Skot just let me be and he, well, it would take me a few days to figure him and the mystery of “Mystical Manny,” all out.
Skot explained to me that night, that not only was he a math teacher in a county not to be named, but that his name was, in fact, spelled with a “k”
It would take me a few days to formulate, but I figured out that there was no argument with Skot––there was just a right or wrong answer to whatever he was jabbering on about. And if you didn’t have this right or wrong answer, this opinion, of sorts––well, you were really in for it.
My problem was also one of usually being a good twenty to maybe fifty yards away from him, especially on this first day of sun cups and endless sweaty post-holing. Did I mention I was also just slightly buzzed?
Not only was this guy a math teacher, he was a fully-functioning career pot-head who lit up at every meal as well as a few times between each meal and then some.
I, on the other hand, required nothing more than the slightest of inhales to set me up for hours of buzz ( or so it seemed) and so my first official day with Skot, began.
There was a lot of snow and little debate. We got up past the “Horse Bridge” camp and into the meadow, which is usually a lovely green meadow and you have to cross the stream there and go up a few switch-backs, but it was all snow and so we went around to the left and then, straight up.
And up some more until we finally leveled out somewhere within maybe a hundred yards of the true summit––or at least the spot where you might find the official sign, declaring it as Donahue Pass.
Anyway, it was time for a buzz and while Skot was still generous and liked me, I had my lunch-time hit and things got weird.
Let’s just say that I need to be sitting perfectly still when I get a buzz, but hadn’t really thought it through and there I was sort of lost on the top of Donahue––no idea where the real trail was and not making very good progress through the deep sun cups and did I mention the post-holing?
Minutes seemed like hours and for once and the last time, I was talking to Skot, as though he were right there with me and maybe he was, or maybe he wasn’t. I don’t know. Maybe it took me three hours to go twenty yards, or maybe it only took five minutes. I do not know.
I do know that Skot was on a roll and way ahead of me. I kept yelling for him to stop, to wait, but he kept going and my attempts to follow him, were like sailing––like seeing him and making progress, but always being blown farther and farther off course, which for me meant way farther east than I needed to be.
Luckily, this getting blown off course also allowed me to come down from my high and gain a little perspective that, primarily, I was kind of screwed.
I eventually got to a spot where I could see him down there, ambling about in the snowy meadow and snaking stream, looking for another spot to jump the rushing water.
I just had to climb down a wet, slippery cliff. No big deal. I clung to the rock and the bushes and gingerly traversed across mossy, wet, icy ledges and eventually got so freaked out that I took off my very heavy pack and tossed it down––it bounced––sort of from one step to the next and I was never so happy as when I finally stepped onto level ground.
It still wasn’t easy going and I was so far off trail that I was, again, lost in the serpentine ways of the meadow stream. Or so it seemed.
Mostly I was pissed off that I had gotten that lost and that Skot didn’t even wait up for me. I finally caught up to him, just as he was finishing another smoke and then just as he jumped what had to have been a good six foot wide and deep, fast, section of the stream.
I was perfectly “sober” at this point and nothing could have made my feet leave the ground. I don’t know where I finally made it across, but I did and by then, it was time to set up camp. I learned my lesson and limits that day.