King's Peak Trail - part 2

Sunday, September 28, 2014

To the east, a clear sky is becoming lighter as dawn approaches. I am awake before my alarm with a more than a bit of anticipation about the day. The arid alpine air almost has my wool socks dry. I wish that I could say the same about cold wet boots. I walk over to my food cache to find that a marmot had attempted a raid during the night. It had a go at my feed bag but I have enough left to salvage breakfast and snacks through to lunchtime. Breakfast is a couple packets of instant oatmeal. With water on the boil, I notice near my compact stove, a small plant with some late season berries on it. Looking wider, I see an entire blueberry patch with ripe wild berries. Oatmeal never tasted so good!

Strangely, on my mind is the trek out. It shouldn't be. Three ridges, the Ramparts, Queen's Ridge and King's Peak are backlit with the rising sun; they should be what I am excited about. At 1,450 metres, I contemplate the energy of adding another 600+ metres of elevation to my solo adventure. How could this even be a question? The weather is perfect. I put together and hiked a a good plan to get this high up so far. It is probably not knowing what the trail is like ahead of me but climbing down that ravine now should not be on my mind.

I gather myself with a familiar promise. Continue upward for an hour if I am not seeing progress toward King's Peak, then I can turn around.

With my camera bag and a full Nalgene bottle of water, I took a deep breath and started up the hill.

Lots of small scrambles on the Ramparts lead me to a view of Mount Colonel Foster. I stop to take a picture. Studying the photograph on the small LCD screen of my camera makes the effort of the trip worth it. Of all the pictures I have taken so far, if I only have this picture to take home, the trip would be a success.

Mount Colonel Foster

Apart from one exposed section on Queen's Ridge, the hike is relatively easy. There are enough cairns built allowing me to navigate the southern side of this range. I reach the saddle between Queen's Ridge and the King's Peak approach just as the sun begins to peek around the mountain. I look at my watch; 1,875m. For someone who that spends most of his recreation time at sea level, the view up here is breathtaking.

I have already burned of this morning's oatmeal. Time for a bit more fuel before the discovering King's Peak for the first time.

A quick glance down at my watch, 2,035 metres; just 30 metres left to go but I may have figuratively hit the wall. In front of me is vertical rock featuring a single seam running up it. Without a harness, rope or the cojones to try, this looks to be the end of my trek. I turn and look to the south. The Elkhorn, a very picturesque mountain is seemingly a tee shot across a valley away. This is a view that many have taken away from a trip up to King's Peak but with more rock above me, I am not at the peak yet.

Staring at the seam as it rises up the wall is not making it any less steep or any less intimidating. Could I really say I went to King's Peak without getting above this wall?

Dejected but finally ok with my decision, I begin my hike down the mountain.

Looking back at the wall, a second vertical crack just west of the last one is now in view. Like the first, this one presents too much exposure for me to attempt. I continue walking, though not in direction that has me losing attitude. Skirting the base of the wall a third vertical crack appears. It would be a scramble but...

A small pile of rocks is the safe refuge for a painted PVC tube; it is adorned with a sticker reading "The Alpine Club of Canada." Its end cap is easy to pull off and a pencil and logbook are the contents that the tube is protecting. Signing my name and I find my self smiling with the excitement.

I am all alone at the top of this mountain and for a this tiny moment, King of King's Peak.