One year of marriage went by pretty fast! It was a solid 12 months of change, growth and adventure of all kind. To celebrate the occasion, Jon and I returned to the wonderful place we were married! Longs Peak. I don't need to go on and on about what this large mountain means to me- if you follow this blog, you already know. Needless to say, we had a great time. We dropped Bivy off at his puppy hotel and hit the trail. Our plan was to camp at the boulder field and summit Longs the following morning.
August 3rd was a strange morning of fog and low hanging clouds. We were constantly waiting for rain and the visibility was very patchy. Our drive to the trail head was slow and careful. Once we geared up and got going, we were above these clouds and could see for miles and miles. Although what we could see was... clouds. Mostly clouds. Surrounding the peaks and filling in the valleys below us.
This created a surreal vibe as we ascending. The last time we were here, was back in February for Valentines Day. It was fun to see the true trail, as opposed to the very steep winter trail. There were wildflowers everywhere and the creek was flowing hard. Creating a cooling breeze that felt great and created a peaceful atmosphere.
Popping out above treeline, we were greeted by sunshine and Columbine as far as the eye could see. There were few people, and everyone was in happy spirits.
Marmots and pikas were sunning themselves everywhere on the open tundra. Birds were singing and butterflies were happily cruising around flower to flower. There was an ever increasing wind developing as the clouds built. And an ever increasing stillness when the wind would subside.
"Mountains know secrets we need to learn. That it might take time, it might be hard, but if you just hold on long enough, you will find the strength to rise up." -Tyler Knott
As we got higher and further into the tundra, the clouds below us grew and grew. Off in the distance, to our immediate right, thunder rumbled and growled in an ominous low tone that instilled a strong sense of urgency to set up camp. We were about a mile and half away from our site, with a lot of elevation to gain. There was no point in trying to push for a faster pace. So we kept on trekking, enjoying the scenery and the sounds that accompanied us.
We started hearing some chirping. Upon a quick inspection of the ground, we spotted four very fluffy ptarmigan chicks scurrying around. And while we've seen these floofy babies before, I don't think we've ever seen them this young. And this precious. Much like my beloved big horn sheep, the camouflage of these birds makes me so unbelievably happy. I don't know why. But when I see rock patterned animals, my heart soars. It's that rad.
Sometimes when I see cool shit on the trail, such as itsy bitsy baby ptarmigans, it puts me into a completely different state of mind, where time flies and the trail zips right by. This was one of those times and before I knew it, we were at the boulder field.
We very quickly pulled our tent out of Jon's pack and started pitching. As this was happening, the hail started. And from about six miles away, we could hear thunder and see lightening. The timing here was extremely important. When the basic shape of the tent was up, I jumped inside and started to blow up air pads. And with the most beautiful timing imaginable, just as the hail started pounding, Jon jumped into the fully pitched tent and thunder roared above us. The storm had arrived.
Between the storms we would come outside of our tent and explore the area. I am a massive fan of scrambling and jumping around from rock to rock, so I enjoyed it quite a lot!
During one of these times of calm, the most glorious thing happened... pine martens! A mother and two kits came out of nowhere and started playing. Running all over the colorful talus and up and down any wooden post in the area. These creatures are elusive, magnificent and fun. And I cannot describe to you the excitement and joy they brought. We had about 10 minutes to watch them play before they escaped into the safety of, well, I don't really know where they went. But it was a fantastic event and possibly a once in a lifetime event. To see pine martens, two of them babies no less, on the boulder field of Longs Peak?! What a fucking gift.
For a quick moment I witnessed something so sweet it took me off guard. One of the kits stopped with the mother marten. They rubbed noses and the kit had a sip of her milk. I could not believe my eyes.
The moon began to rise into the vivid blue sky. A full, bright moon. Beginning the slow fade into evening, perfectly wrapping up a day that won't be forgotten.
The sunset was pastel and glowing. A surreal fading of light that washed the landscape in an aloe glow of gold. We retired to the tent. Enjoying the quiet and sleepy from the work and excitement of the day.
When we woke up early the next morning, it was hailing out once more. With lightening and thunder, killing the chance to summit Longs Peak. When it comes to tall peaks, the risk of bad weather means the risk of death. We discussed the matter briefly, both agreeing to play it safe.
When we emerged from the tent, we were greeted with an anniversary gift that moved me; a fully red sun, rising in a still back sky. An unusual and provocative sight. The sunrise that ensued was bursting. Bursting with purples, pinks and reds. Sunbeams screaming loudly, shooting out of the thick clouds. And all of this is to say, it was a good morning. A strange and romantic morning.
We packed up and hiked out. Winds exceeding 45mph and spirits high. This trip was a solid reminder of our love for one another and our love for this place.