Friday brought last minute Mothers Day deliveries so my favorite man in brown was at work until late late late. I called Casey and asked him to help fill my time with some drinks and he was kind enough to oblige. Love him. I met him up at Smiths and was introduced to my new favorite bartender, Jeff. This adorable little guy who turned me onto grapefruit bitters, a lovely addition to my gin and tonic. I think I finished the bottle. Mr. Kool texted me that he was over playing dodge-ball, so Casey and I took the opportunity to try out the new taco place, Rancho Bravo next to the courts. He had already tried the tacos and assured me they were yummy; and he was not wrong. The tall one met us there around 9:30, poor kid, and after introducing him to Mr. Kool we headed back up to Smiths where we assaulted our livers a little more.
Saturday morning brought beautiful blue skies and an ache for the mountains. I woke up early and watched the tall one sleep for what seemed like forever. I didn't want to wake him because I knew he was exhausted after the long week, but I wanted the trail. Besides, I hadn't hiked with him before and honestly I was a bit nervous about having a new person to hike with. I didn't know if he would hate it, if he would be slow, if I would be too slow, if his legs would be too tired from the week, could I count on him up there? All these questions made me ancy which is why I'm sure I couldn't sleep past 8 am.
"when it was first discovered"
There were two goals on this trip: one, reach the balcony and two, find the damn truck. I'd already been up there twice so I was familiar with the trail all the way to the balcony. We got there in good time and sat out on the ledge alone enjoying the view and lunch. I started to see that look in his eyes; the enjoyment, the wonder, the happiness of being on the trail. It was pretty cool and I was beginning to really enjoy the company. Besides, kisses when we reach the summit? Awesome.
"down below" ttv
Time to find the truck. We backtracked out and continued up the trail. It's 1.5 miles to the turn off for the balcony and another .5 miles to the balcony, so we were logged in at 2.5 miles and an elevation gain of 1233 feet. Not too bad, but from there the next mile has an approximate gain of about 1000 feet, which sucked. I'm actually surprised that more people don't take this trail. It's beautiful, well maintained, many amazing view points, the history is pretty interesting, there are sweeping views at Dirty Harry's peak and it kicks your ass...well, mine at least!
We came upon Museum Creek and thanks to the "map" that one of the hikers at NWhikers.net posted up, I knew the truck to be straight up it about a 100 feet or so. However the brush is very thick and the snow was like a 1000 year old bridge that threatened to collapse with a single touch. There were two entry ways listed on the "map", one of which was up past the creek on the main trail and then had you back track down. We decided to find that trail instead of braving the creek bed.
However, the trail was not to be found. At this point I was exhausted, ready to give up, and cursing Dirty Harry's name with the vulgarity of a truck driver. We turned around and started back down. We came upon the creek again and Lucas stopped. He said "that kind of looks like the trail, doesn't it connect again down on this side?" He proceeded to follow it into the brush. Honestly, I didn't want to go. I was tired, I was frustrated, I was over it. But damnit if he wasn't going to find that truck for me. He came to a spot to cross the creek and I was thinking to myself "he's not going to cross...damn, he's crossing it...well, he's not going to continue...aw hell, now I have to go in there".
Sure enough, you could see the spur road clear as day with the snow. The issue again was that damn snow. I fell through it more than once and after traversing the creek I was soaking wet, squishy wet, my pants were so soaked I could ring them out. Lucas was way ahead of me and wasn't stopping, he was a mad man! I couldn't believe it! Where did he find the strength?! I was stuck in the snow up to my ass and didn't want to move. Then he exclaimed "Truck!"
I couldn't believe it. There it was! Three trips, almost 20 miles logged, elevation to erratic to count due to multiple trips off the trail and finally, success! YAY!!
Lucas helped me up over the banks of snow once I crossed the stream and I hung on to the canopy to take a few shots of the inside of the truck and also the engine. I had a few planned shots, but I had no idea of the terrain the truck was up against and also how exhausted I would be once I reached it. However a victory shot was much needed and thankfully taken by my excellent hiking partner.
As we sat across from each other that evening, exhausted on my couch, I listened to him talk about the day, about finding the truck, about how beautiful it was up there, how amazing that it's only 40 miles away from the city, multiple well deserved exclamations of YAY!...on and on it went and I was reminded of my first hike and how I felt after. It was so great and I can't tell you how much it meant to me that he really enjoyed it. I've wanted so badly to have another friend to share the mountains with and my expectations of him were totally blown. He was an awesome hiking partner, a fun companion...and the kisses weren't too bad either :)