September 19th, 2007

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Little Miss Redcloud & Sunshine

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

I figured that since I had already climbed one 14er this week, I might as well do two more. In one day.

Yesterday, I summited both Redcloud Peak (14,034′) and Sunshine Peak (14,001′ – hey, when it counts, it counts – just don’t knock any rocks off the top). My dad and I met up with my mom – and 25 awesome women from Kansas City – for yet another mountain excursion. The goal was to make it to the top of Redcloud – and most of the women did! I was so impressed with these women and their serious effort. A variety of ages and fitness levels, every single one of them pushed themselves as far as they could go. It was absolutely heroic.

After reaching the top of Redcloud, I was feeling good. I had gained 4 miles and 4,000 feet of elevation in just 3:15 – not bad. I shared my peanut butter sandwich with Rowdy, and enjoyed the spectacular sunny sky and panoramic view, and cheered as more and more women arrived at the summit.

Since we had made such good time, we had the option to continue on to Sunshine Peak, a mile and a half a way. When asked if I wanted to proceed further, I thought, “What would make better fodder for the blog?” You already know the answer. Four of us decided to continue to the top of Sunshine. In order to do this, we had to drop down off of Redcloud to the saddle below, walk along a ridge, and then ascend again to Sunshine. No biggie – whatever. What’s another mile and a half?

Oh. Only trudging through 8″ of snow, with severe winds almost blowing us off the cliff, down precarious slopes and then straight up an icy escarpment to Summit #2.

Karla, Melissa, Melinda, and I plodded carefully, hats and gloves on, uttering no words. The wind howling around my Gore-Tex hood was as loud as thunder, as soft as drowning; I was lost in my own head, but formed no real thoughts. Just step, step, step. And in a mere 50 minutes, we arrived at our second summit of the day.

Me with Karla:

But the victory of a second summit was soon squelched by the heavy realization that WE ARE ONLY HALFWAY. What goes up must come down; we had to then turn around, and do it all over again. But you know, these women are hosses. And we had great conversations, and saw breathtaking views, and knew that that night we could eat WHATEVER WE WANTED.

So far, I’m impressed at the events of the first 9 days of The Big Trip. Big things have happened. And it’s only the beginning…