We have snow. Not enough to rally yet, and plenty of rocks and stumps lurking in ankle-breaking anticipation. But it's there.
Loaded the sandbags and chains into the back of the truck and gunned it for Heart Lake. Kyle 2 has been working back in this area, so he supplied directions from the passenger seat.
Two or more feet of new snow dare you to try. Four wheel drive, little sleep, black coffee and nicotine. Steel yourself. Punch it through.
Well into snowmachine zone we manage a turnaround, park the truck, and ascend into the high church of the natural world. All the old feelings start to come back. There's that bite of cold air. The squeak of a boot or binding. The rhythm and shush of skins on snow.
A moment to genuflect above Heart Lake. Clouds rolling like breakers over the ridgeline. Snow in and out. Wind blowing like a sonofabitch.
Getting au cheval on the north ridge of Canyon Peak.
A decent forecast, a (somewhat) limited amount of homework, and a bajillion mountains to choose from just down the road. When the opportunity presents itself, take it.
Canyon Peak. The north ridge scramble pieces together sections of clean rock looker's right edge of the peak.
After several snooze buttons and much coffee, I was on the road from Missoula a little before seven, blasting Arcade Fire and watching as the sun bloodied all the sharp teeth of the Bitterroot. The Canyon Lake trailhead is one of the cuter little points of embarkment in the valley--fortunately I was the first one there, and didn't have to fight for a parking place. A couple of hard breathing hours later and I was at the base of the peak.
Time for the rock shoes.
After a Snickers break and a moment of reflection, I spent the next fort-five minutes timidly picking my way to the summit. Canyon is a steep, uncompromising peak, and I am out of shape and not used to much exposure. Constant attention was the order of the day, as crisp, clean edges morphed all too easily into spoon sized tufts of black lichen. Fortunately the way always opened itself before me.
The moody views.
Finally I reached the ridge, heaving up onto a narrow sidewalk much broken and disjointed, and with hundreds of feet of air on either side. This was good.
A moment for those deep thoughts you sometimes get.
The summit, size of a dinner table, offers in addition to a few exhilarating perches, several comfortable seats. I peeled off my shoes, donned a jacket, and sat back to watch the world go briefly by. The noise of the wind whipping the west side of the peak into a froth was all that kept me awake.
Fall colors are coming on, the larch just turning.
The downclimb was deliberate but never problematic--funny how it only takes a few minutes to get your mountain sense back, even after weeks away from the hills. I bonked hard on the way out, burning through my last Snickers and wishing I had something more than Gu to eat. It's not that I dislike the stuff, but that real food is so much...foodier. Canyon Lake was low, low, low, the usual waterfall a diminutive trickle. Time for some snow.
K2 stuffing cracks in Mill Creek a couple weeks back.
Courtesy of a move to Missoula and the commencement of my first year of law school, blogging has more or less dropped off the map the past month. This is of course not necessarily a bad thing, though I do find myself at times looking back on the open days of the past months with more than a hint of yearning. You don't know what endless summer means until summer's actually over.
This of course only to say that roads diverge in woods, and we are all at those crossroads no more than a single traveler. Fall is coming, even if at ninety degrees in mid September it doesn't quite feel that way. In a little while there will again be snow on the ground. I'll keep taking pictures and posting them, and writing a story or two along the way.