Monday, September 10, 2007
Saddle Mountain Hike, installment 2...
The way the trail goes through the alpine meadows is by doing wide, zig-zagging switchbacks. This photo was an attempt to show how steep the slope would be if we were going up it, but it doesn't really show it all that well. I find that when I'm on something that steep I have a hard time figuring out which way is UP, true UP, not just UP-ish...so if you tilt your head a little to the left while looking at the first picture (so that all the trees appear to be growing straight up and down) you'll get a better idea of how steep the slope is.
The second picture here is an attempt to show how steep the path is... even though we are not going straight up the grade, the path across it is much like climbing stairs. If you enlarge the picture of my friend at right, you'll see the path continues up by her head in the photo...not flat at all.
Did I mention that I'm sore today?
As we come out to the edges (and trust me, they are edges) of the mountain's north side, we found these amazing windswept trees...sculpted by their lifetime of direct wind. The trees here have nothing to shelter them, even the next mountain peak is many, many meters away with a steep (1000+M) drop right next to them. It's incredible that they insist on living there at all!
Above the alpine meadows the terrain becomes rock. There are still scrubby little things eking out their lives on the mountain's face, strong, stubby little plants made of very stern stuff. The lichens here are spectacular, some are a bright lime green (regardless of the fashions), many thistles are here and dwarf lupins, too. They can't get much rain, and as you can see in the photo the sun is unrelenting up here.
The peak itself is 2304 M height, and we hiked up there in 2 1/2 hours. It's 5.3 km from the trail head to the top. - Did I mention that I'm sore today?