Tue, Jul 6, 2004
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I had all sorts of trouble getting going this morning. The problem began the previous day when one of the kids was misbehaving, and his father revoked certain priviledges as punishment. One of those priviledges was the nightly glowstick which the 5 yr-old used as a night light to help him sleep more securely at bedtime. This wouldn't have normally been something I cared about, except Jordan was one of three youngsters I was rooming with on our vacation. He and his brother Adam occupied the bottom beds in the bunks, while my 7 yr old Ryan and myself occupied the upper bunks. Because I was planning to get up again at 2a as I had the previous morning, we all went to bed at the same time, roughly 8p. The night started well enough and we all soon fell fast asleep. Around 11p Jordan woke up, and caught in the terror of total darkness without his glowstick to offer protection, he began to whimper. I was the first one in the room to wake up to this, and as I lay there hoping he would fall back asleep, his whimper grew in volume and began to take on a raspy quality to it. Maybe he would go hoarse I thought, trying to put on positive spin on my growing concern over the lack of sleep I was getting. Jordan showed amazing reserves of energy, conserving it at first, but slowly building in volume and a sense of desperation that he calculated was sure to get his Dad's attention. Unfortunately Dad was sound asleep upstairs in another room altogether, and it would take much more to get his attention. Jordan was well poised to accept the challenge. The volume of his whimpering grew, and the temperment of it changed from something that represented pleading, to something that sounded like a squirrel being strangulated. I'm not making this up, by the way. Eventually the other two boys, both naturally sound sleepers, were awake. But like me, they lay there and endured the increasing annoyance, hoping that anyone (preferrably a parent) would save them from this devilish disturbance. After 30 minutes with no sign of abatement and no indication that his parents would come to our rescue, I decided that since I was the oldest of the bunch (by some 35 years I might add) I should try to do something about it. I got out of bed and did what any grown man would do when faced with loss of sleep from a 5 yr old - I begged. I begged him to be quiet and consider that he was keeping the rest of us awake. I begged him to go upstairs to his parents' room. Nothing I could say in my most reasonable voice would stop the squirrel strangulation, and in fact it only seemed to make him more obstinate. I pointed out that the three old glow sticks in his possession provided more than adequate residual light to sleep by. He wanted the new one, not excuses. I reached a breaking point. I leaned over and very quietly told him, "You're just lucky you aren't my kid, because I would beat the shit out of you." And then I got back in to my own bed. I swear - I really said that. It instantly made me feel better concerning my powerlessness to control this child. In fact, he actually quieted down briefly, probably out of fear that I might do it anyway. Almost simultaneously I was struck by the overwhelming fear and guilt that I had just done a very bad thing and would have to pay dearly for it. Undoubtedly I'm an evil person, because my main concern was not how it would affect the child (I really didn't care about that), but that his parents, very good friends of mine, would find out what I had said to their precious child and come to know just how evil I was.
Eventually Dad did come down and get Jordan settled and back to sleep, but by then my sleep had been pretty frayed. If he ever found out what I had said to Jordan he never let on, and by the next morning when I saw everyone after my hike it was as though it were a passing dream. But that's getting ahead of things. I got up at 2a as planned and drove to the Mosquito Flat TH, planning to climb either Rosy Finch or Little Lakes Peak on either side of Morgan Pass. But I was too tired when I drove up, and I decided to take a quick nap in the car. I slept until 3:30a, which turned out to be the best sleep I had that night. Because I was still feeling a bit groggy and had a late start, I changed plans to climb the easier, nearby peak that rises above the southeast side of Ruby Lake. The peak is unofficially named "Lookout Peak" in Secor, and I'd had my eye on it for some time during many hikes in the area.
It was one of the more leisurely hikes I've done in the Sierra, not counting those I do with my son. I'm pretty sure if I was determined I could climb it in an hour from the trailhead, but today I took twice that long. I had some trouble finding a way across the creek, then after that had a very nice scramble up the Northeast Ridge by moonlight. I never needed my headlamp the entire morning in fact, and found it quite enjoyable going a little slower to avoid stumbling over obstacles in the trail, and leaving the headlamp off. There were no bugs of any sort wandering around, no animals, and certainly no people. The cool air felt crisp and fresh. The Northeast Ridge was up to class 3 in places, and by staying on the steeper part of the ridge I made it harder than it needed to be. From almost any angle Lookout Peak is a class 2 climb, with steeper talus chutes on the west side, lower angled slopes on the east.
It was about 5:20a when I reached the summit, about 20 minutes still before sunrise. I found a small register to perused and added my name. There were some lingering clouds to the east from the previous afternoon's thunderstorms, and as the sun began to work its way towards the horizon these clouds began to light up, first in softer tones, then in firey shades of orange, yellow, and purple. Softer pinkish hues could be seen on the wispier clouds to the west over Mts. Abbot and Mills. For the descent I headed down the Southeast Ridge, staying on the ridge artificially in places just to keep things interesting. By 6:30a I was off the ridge and along the northern shore of Long Lake. The sun had decided to come out from behind the remaining clouds which were fast disappearing, and I had fine view to the south looking at Bear Creek Spire and other peaks surrounding it. I enjoyed the flowers in bloom on the hike back along the trail, reflections in the lakes, and the early morning solitude. I came across two parties out for dayhikes before I had gotten back to the trailhead at 7:15a, exxchanging only brief greetings and then leaving them to enjoy their own wilderness solitude. It was a rather quick outing, less than four hours in total, but those early morning hours were quite magical and I was looking forward to more in the following days - provided I could get enough sleep next time.
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