Rising at 1:15 AM, we ate our versions of high protein, slung our packs and got into the car to drive up to the trail head and see what awaited us on the culminating hike of our summer. I forgot that a head lamp might be appreciated as we hit the trail at 3 AM. It was dark. No moon up yet and a long while until even the pre-dawn light.
Although steep, the first part of the trail is well-traveled, and we talked quietly on and off without having to stop for three or four miles. The route we chose to take up Mt. Meeker follows the Sandbeach Lake trail until Hunter’s Creek. From there, it is a crap shoot. The directions we took from a website said the trail from Hunter’s Creek comes and goes and to “just look around” if you lose the trail until you see it again. MmHmm. We lost it several times and “looked around” with Elaine’s head lamp to “find it again.”
Our goal was to try to summit by 8AM because of predicted storms coming in and our aversion to being struck by lightning out on the open boulder field on the south side of the mountain…or anywhere else for that matter. After a while, we stopped “looking around” and just decided to go in the general direction of up and somewhat to the north because we knew we’d end up in Meeker Meadow. We did, somewhat wetter and colder and a bit scratched up from the bushwhacking we’d done. Our carefully planned timeline was way off as we must have wandered around much longer than we knew because we’d reached the total mileage of the
peak, but still had the large, precipitous boulder field to go.
For me, the boulder field is the most difficult part, both up and down. I struggle with the loose rock and my vertigo if I happen to look down the steep grade. Elaine is stalwart and much more of a rock hound, so I concentrate on her heels. When we hit what we considered the top of the boulder field, we were 1,600 vertical feet short of the summit’s 13,911 feet. The black clouds coming over the top though, reminded us of our promise not to die. I took a deep breath and started down. God was with us.
The hike back down was shorter; we found that darn trail by deciding that if we stayed by
the water, we’d have to run into it. We did. our total distance was actually more than the hike up the mountain and back should have been. It was an incredible day and the foot weary hikers consider it one of their triumphs. Where else can you find such a view and in such good company… not to mention the Salted Nut Roll.