Tuesday, August 27, 2013

TOP OF THE WORLD: Elkhorn Peak

Our summit crew near the flag.  
Friday, August 16, 2013
Click HERE to view today's pictures

     Today was an early rising from a dawn departure at 6am to climb to the summit of Elkhorn Peak.  Our climbing crew was Rick and I, Mark Bogart, Luke, and Zach Ellis, the youth pastor from the Nazarene Church.  The forecast for HOT and potential afternoon thunderstorms precipitated our early escape, but we were rewarded as we left town with the fiery ball of an orange sun bursting over the Baker Valley horizon.  A God-reminder for the day. 
Rising sun at 6am
     Early mornings always reward you on the trail with deep shadows and bright light, dampness with residual dew, and the freshness that comes with dawn.  We hiked the first three miles with animated conversation and silence, fellowship and contemplation, reveling in the changing panoramas, and agonizing over the hazy, smokey skies that told stories of forests ablaze. 
Momentary pause halfway up the peak.
     At three miles the hike changes to climb as we ventured off the beaten trail to ascend the shoulder of the peak over rocky terrain.  I thrilled to find new growth in tiny fern-like plants thriving in the hostile rocks.  By 9:30 am all five of us stood on top of the summit (somewhat amazed to find an American flag had been erected on top recently!)  We all took a few moments for solitude and silence, alone with our thoughts (and our lunch!)  
       Whenever I get to the top of a mountain, two songs always burst forth from my lungs: Pass It On and Top of the World.  I like to sing the latter the God's love as the source.  When you stand within touching of heaven, to sing to God is so very natural.  
     We gazed out on God's glory: the patchwork of farmland below, the indistinct outline of distance mountains in the shifting haze, tiny wildflowers struggling for survival in a cold and barren location, the myrid of Elkhorn peaks dotting the northern horizon, mountains goats grazing in a lakeside meadow, the piercing cry of hawks soaring on thermal breezes, the fluttering of hundreds of brightly colored butterflies - and a few bees according to Zach!, the cool and cleansing rush of the Spirit wind.  When on top of mountains you have a sense of place in God's creation, small and insignificant to the great big world, but close and in touch with a God who cares so very deeply about each part of God's creation.  
Goodrich Lake and Luke's inuk.
My pathetic inuk suk. 
Luke's inuk with Rock Creek
     I built an inuksuk which Luke informed me was a lame attempt.  So he built two more....yes, bigger and better ones....one either side of the summit.  One overlooking Twin Lakes and Rock Creek Butte, the other with a view of the valley and Goodrich Lake below.  We took some group pictures, altho the inuksuk picture didn't get focused very well.  (My fault!)  
     Zac had hiked most of the Crest Trail recently with his dad and wanted to finish the tiny bit he hadn't done.  So he and Luke took off straight DOWN the mountain to intersect the trail along Twin Lakes.  Around 10:20 am, Mark, Rick, and I slowly started down off the peak, retracing our steps from the climb up. 
     Not surprisingly, since Mark and I don't travel downhill much faster than we go up, Zac and Luke caught up with us just moments after we reached the main trail again!  Good hike back out to the pass, but I always think it is longer going out than coming in!  I get fooled by the curves in the trail!  
     Zac was curious about the quality of the road on the Sumpter side of Marble Pass, so we took it out (first time for us to travel down from the pass in probably 25 years!)  The road isn't much better on the west side, such that I wouldn't do it in a passenger car!  Quick drive home to get Zach to work shortly after 1:30pm!!  
Our out of focus group shot with the Inuksuk. 

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