In this post I want to talk about something I am very proud of.
Today I hiked 16.5 km with an elevation gain of 1060m summiting a peak estimated at 2993m. It was freaking hard, totally spontaneous, and absolutely awesome.
We started this trip as a group of three (Mason from Toronto, Valentina from Slovenia and me) with the plan of hiking to Lake Helen, which is about a 12km round trip. We began the ascent at 9.30am. It was very pretty, but also quite steep already.
We got to Helen Lake pretty fast. If you look at the upper picture Peak Cirque is visible on the left. Sitting next to the lake we saw three people, nothing more than tiny dots, make their way up the mountain. Mason hinted at going up there, Valentina and I decided he and all the other hikers were crazy. We also decided to hike up to the plateau on which the mountain sat. Dolomites pass, probably named by an Italian explorer.
The moment we reached the plateau (2nd lake) I thought to myself there was no way I was going to get up that mountain. That was when we were convinced by Mason to go for it. Yeah right.
Valentina was initially more enthusiastic than me, but until about the halfway mark she was struggling more than me. The trail consisted of sand only and our calves were burning. I, on the other hand, got really pumped about this whole thing.
Then the schist debris started, the trail got steeper and stepper and finally disappeared. 40° grade. (I’m not even kidding.) Pictures don’t do it justice. It was horrible. I slipped every other step I took. Every slip would cause a small stone avalanche. The stone avalanches made me really scared of falling off of the mountain. (I don’t think that would’ve been possible.) The farther we got up the mountain, the higher it seemed.
About 150 m from the top I got stuck. My thighs were hurting badly. It was very windy. I had been climbing on all fours for the last 300 m of elevation gain. My fear of heights was kicking in with all force making me shiver. Mason and Valentina had already summited.
That’s when I decided to just stay there. I had been stupid to try this in the first place anyways.
It was a Czech couple who convinced me to join them on their trail up. I hadn’t seen that trail before. It was with them that I managed to do what I had not expected myself to do.
On my final couple of meters I stopped totally out of breath and started whining ‘You guys, I am dyyyying,’ but Mason answered back ‘No you’re not. You made it.’ That’s when I made it.
I summited Peak Cirque, 2993 m above sea level. 1005 m of elevation gain compared to where we had started out. To put that into perspective: The lake on the right on that summit picture is Lake Helen, which had been supposed to be our final destination.
The peak was pretty cold and windy, but also absolutely gorgeous. Let’s just say it was worth the climb, although I spent most of the time crouching on the ground, because I was too scared to glance across the edge. I was scared of the descent. I was quite scared in general.
But it was just fine. I didn’t even get a scratch. (Mason did.) 90 minutes later and we were back in the car, exhausted and smelly, but feeling so accomplished I am just smiling thinking back to it.
You don’t have to climb any mountain. To be honest, it wasn’t even on my bucket list. I enjoy hiking in Alberta, but I am scared of heights, why would I want to climb anything. I wouldn’t have done it, had we planned on it from the beginning.
I only made it up to 2993 m, because it came up spontaneously, because Valentina was almost the same pace as me, and because of that nice Czech couple.
And it was awesome.
Every once in a while, do something that scares you. Nothing stupid or extremely dangerous; simply step out of your comfort zone and try something you never thought you would do. It might surprise you. You might surprise yourself. I for sure did.
PS: My feet are killing me. Plus, I’ve got to clean my hiking boots. Look at them.