• GaylyFwd

Section A - Day 4: The Wind

0 Km hiked. Territory: Blackfoot/Niitsitapi, Ktunaxa

I wake to the sound of flapping tent fabric, and struggle to get going in the freezing wind. I'm frustrated because I dilly-dallied so much yesterday with the puffballs an waxwings and now I have so many kms to hike today and I just can't seem to get my ass in gear. I finally get some coffee into me and eat a granola bar as I start walking up Avion ridge. I'm wearing all my layers and still cold. My legs are stiff and sore. It's brilliantly sunny out, but it's so cold it may as well be blizzarding. This sucks.

It gradually gets windier as I ascend the steep shale-covered ridge. It comes in gusts so I alternate hiking normally and bracing myself. It seems to work fine, so I press on like this for quite some time thinking only of the miles I need to make today. Exhaustion, adrenaline, and urgency clouding my thinking, I press on, hardly noticing that the gusts are closer together, and stronger. I take to fully crouching down when they come, hands and knees in the shale.

The further up I get, the harder the wind blows, less gusts now, and more an uneven, violent battering. It whips the breath out of my mouth. It is like a great fist trying to push me off the mountain. If I can just get to that rock, I think to myself, and take shelter.

A moment of lucidity.

I am alone, near the crest of a steep mountain pass, literally clinging to a 1 foot high rock for dear life.

"OH HELL NO!" I shout into the wind. "FUCK THIS"

I was getting the hell off that ridge.

I tightened my straps, took a deep breath, and took off back down the ridge. Hell. No.

Halfway back down the slope, where it still felt like a regular shitty windy day (as opposed to a blow-you-off-the-mountain-and-die day), I ran into two other GDT hikers on their way up. I told them it was no use, and to turn back around.

It was nice to chat with some humans after that whole ordeal. Strange though, to be on testosterone and go days without speaking and then be startled by my own deeper voice.

We we made our way down to the treeline together. I felt dazed in my post adrenaline hangover. I pitched my tent in a sheltered spot, as far from the wind as I could get, and fell into a deep sleep, vowing to try again tomorrow.

When I awoke from my nap, I went down to the creek for some water and as I crouched there filling my water bag, a large, sleek black bear came crashing through the bushes not ten feet upstream. Gunshy from my earlier scare, I had thankfully had the presence of mind to bring my bear spray down to the creek within me. It seemed the bear had the same goal as me down in the creek bed though, and seemed oblivious to my Hey Bear, Woah Bears as he drank his fill and ambled on.

I fell asleep early, listening but to the sparrows in the trees. What a day.

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