Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bad hike. Bad.

Like several of the hikes we completed this summer, Trevor and I wanted to show my mother some of our favorite destinations and views in southwestern Colorado.  And, most of the time, we were successful and I feel very confident that my mom now has some new favorite hikes of varying length and difficulty to take her friends on when they visit her in Durango. 

This was NOT one of those hikes, however.  I thought it was going to be, but I was wrong.  Oh-so wrong.

Keeping with the theme of seeing places like Durango and Silverton from above, we decided that Grammy Pammy might enjoy a hike to Hogsback.  After all, there isn't much distance involved, but the payoff at the top is, in my opinion, much better than from Raider Ridge to the east.  Plus, Trevor and I did it in about 90 minutes back in 2010, and that included time spent relaxing and taking in the view at the top.  So, the plan was:  take Grammy Pammy up, and then meet Trevor and Banner in town for lunch and a celebratory brown beer at Lady Falconburgh's afterwards.

Knowing that the route Trevor and I took previously had the unpleasant scramble to get to the top, I figured I'd avoid that way and just take mom up the trail we came down in 2010.  I warned her in advance that it was a hot, dry and very rocky hike, but it never occurred to me that she would also find it steep and exposed.  I feel bad, though, because it should have after I watched her struggle (but overcome!) the steeper parts of Kendall on Monday and get dizzy looking down from Castle Rock the day before.

Needless to say, we turned around before reaching the top.  Mom was willing to continue, but I knew from experience that it was only going to get steeper the higher we went, and I didn't want her to reach her mental limit, panic and be unable to get back down.  And, despite her claims that there had to be a better trail to the summit (and back down), I knew that the path we were on was the easiest way.

That said, I also believe that, had the hike to Hogsback been covered in trees which masked the sides of the spine and ribs of the mountain, that she would have been absolutely fine.  It was the being able to look down that was the problem. 

Rationally, I know the trail we were on wasn't much (if any) steeper than some of the others we've hiked this summer.  But sometimes that doesn't matter, and I can totally empathize.  Because I am a complete wimp when it comes to skiing.  I've been doing it since I was two, but there is something about getting to the top of a run and looking down that completely freaks me out.  I will start out strong, but the longer I do it, the more it wears on me mentally.  So, by the end of a ski trip, even though I KNOW I can do it (hey, I've done it countless times that day, weekend or week!), I completely fall apart. 

And again, it isn't physical.  I am just worn out mentally from all that looking down from the top of a run on skies.  It is part of the reason why I switched to snowboarding a little over a decade ago.  At least when I am on a board, I can face back up the mountain during my turns and not look down the entire time.  It, ironically, helps prolong the enjoyment I do get out of the winter sport.  Plus, switching from skis to a board gave me an excuse to go at my own pace rather than try and keep up with my family.  Especially since my preferred method down the mountain involves numerous, large, gradual turns.  For everyone else, however, it seems to be a race to the bottom.

And, yet, it isn't like I have a fear of heights.  Nothing about standing on the edge of Castle Rock and looking down bothered me in the slightest.  Just like nothing about standing on skis at the top of a double black diamond run bothers my mother.  It is just the perspective.  Had the hike to Hogsback been covered in snow and my mother had been wearing skis, she would have been fine and I would have been the one scooting down the trail on my bum.  It is funny how something like that can completely change the way your mind can handle a situation.

In the end, we both made it down safely (although via slightly different routes, but that is a different story), and that is all that is important.

The view from the highest point before turning around.

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