Sunday, October 04, 2009

steep and rocky

rocky trail
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is a view down the Mt Osceola trail, on the way up from Greeley Ponds trail to the summit of East Osceola.

After a reasonable uphill grade, the trail became steeper, and filled with huge rocks that made the climbing difficult. I wound up doing a lot of climbing with my hands, to avoid putting lots of weight on my knees while they were bent.

I had seen several descriptions of a "rocky slide" that was supposed to be along this part of the trail. I kept wondering if I had found it, since I wasn't sure what a rocky slide was supposed to be. In my mind, it would be a long smooth slab of rock; a slide that was made out of rock. I had crawled over numerous slabs of smooth rock. I kept asking myself: "Is this the rocky slide? Is that the rocky slide?" But perhaps they meant a "rock slide", an area where a lot of rocks had fallen down. The entire trail in this area could be called a rocky slide, in that case.

The trail kept getting steeper and more rocky. Around noon, I decided to take a break to eat. I was a little disappointed, because I was hoping to eat at the summit, but the trail seemed never-ending. For lunch, I had an Art's Original Pro Bar (IMHO, it's one of the better bars out there with a good amount of fiber and protein, tastes fresh, and doesn't make you gag).

I had been nice and warm due to exertion, but while I stopped for lunch, I began to get cold. I noticed a few things. My feet and hands had rapidly become cold once I stopped moving. My arms had become wet due to water dripping down through my rain jacket cuffs when I lifted my arms climbing rocks or just eating. When I drank from my water bottle, the water felt like it had been in the refrigerator - pretty cold, 40 °F or less.

I began to have second thoughts about camping out overnight. Of course it would be colder at these higher elevations, but I had no way to be sure it would be bearably warm overnight, even further down. The weather report for Waterville Valley had predicted temperatures in the 40s overnight, but if they weren't (and possibly if they were), I might be in danger of hypothermia, especially if I stayed wet. The fact that I'd gotten cold so quickly kind of worried me.

As I was sitting on the rocks deciding what to do, I was approached by a group of backpackers. It turned out to be a boy scout troop! They were using poles, and traveling pretty rapidly up the side of the mountain. I asked the leaders how much farther it was to the summit, and they thought it would be perhaps 10 or 20 minutes, so I decided to hike onward.

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