Thursday, September 16, 2010


There is an imprint of my fist somewhere above Tabletop on Lazy Mountain. It had been an amazing fall. Cold, crisp, sunny, still, BEAUTIFUL!!! So what do water logged Alaskans do when the sun comes out? We go crazy and try to pack all the out door fun we couldn't do all summer into a sunny weekend. Days are getting quite a bit shorter and the nights colder. But since there has been no wind (knock on wood) we have kept our beautiful colorful fall intact. The lakes are so still they are like amazing mirrors smoothly catching all the colors around them and casting them back at your eyes causing you to pause to catch your breath. Thanks to the warm sunshine cutting through the cold the adventurer in all of us has come out ten fold. The crisp air has made the mountains stand taller and our energy grow expidentially. Saturday we took the kayaks to Cottonwood lake and took turns toodeling along on the lake finding signs of fall. Dead salmon carcases, where they gave up the fight and rolled over the last time. Yellow leaves that let go early in an eager rush to float, toss and turn only to land on a wet surface so still they don't go anywhere fast. An old airplane on floats tucked in the trees quite forgotten, paint fading, skin rusting, still grinning from couling to couling like it's keeping a funny secret. Animals I don't recognize swimming through the reeds gathering stuff for pending winter. Geese flying in ever changing V's overhead giving up the ghoast and flying south. The kids were happily catching stickle back minos at the edge of the water. Buddy goes manic near the water anymore digging to China. Blue tried to keep up with us in the kayaks by running through peoples yards along the shoreline. It was practically perfect in every aspect. We decided that tomorrow, tomorrow wouldn't be so lazy..

Matt and Tosha decided to attempt Matanuska Peak for the third time that summer. Scott and I looked at each other and decided to attempt a lesser but just as harowing hike, Lazy Mountain. Unfortunately, while we were floating around lazily on a lake, Tosha was up at a river playing with her sisters and in an atempt to bolder skip across the river to rescue half a guitar case, Tosha slipped in and broke her toe between bolders. 8am Matt joined us at Windbreak Cafe for Morris Breakfast to tell us the sad tale. He joined our group after church in our ascent. It was another BEAUTIFUL day, clear, warm, FABULOUS!! Now I was born and raised here and have never attempted this particular peak before. Actually there are many peaks I have not ascended yet in this valley...all just as harry as the next. But I did grow up with lots of friends who climbed it...or ran it weekly...sometimes daily...I wish everyone could get a feel for what this means...insanity at it's best. Anyway, three years ago, the bourough decided to add an optional switch back trail for the first half of the mountain. Trail maintenance just finished it this year, so we took off down the horse trail for about ten minutes to find the head of Lazy Moose Trail. Here I told the group to go ahead and please not wait up for me. If I made it to the top that would be a bonus but today was about me, my camera, and my keeping myself intact and happy. This meant not pushing my knee to exaustion before I decended. This meant finding and eating as many raspberries and blueberries as I could find. This meant stopping and looking through my lens as much as I pleased without slowing others down....that was the last I saw them till the top. They beat me by 30 mins but we all arrived content and the view was so so SO worth it. A different perspective on the valley and a view of what is beyond was breath taking!! Matanuska Peak didn't look as intrepidous from here as it does from the floor. We took lots of silly pictures and decided to head down. Now you seasoned peeps know what I mean by the fact that there is only one option down and that is to run. The slope is at such an angle that it takes more energy (and pain) to hold yourself back than to let gravity take over. That is my favorite part, running down steep terrain!! It brought me back to my childhood and slopes at Hatcher Pass and the Butte or slopes above George Lake. Besides running created the first breeze we had felt all day!! I think this is odd because in this valley that is placed at the end of two wind tunnels, there is rarely a still moment, especially way up high like this. It was such a thrill, pure joy, until we got to the mud again and I hesitated. On my way up, I had gotten to this part, end of switch backs, slippery dirt slopes that I fell twice hard and almost gave up going up to the top. Now as I was coming down hard my left foot slid and I tried to catch myself with my right. That's when it popped loudly and I got sick to my stomach. I lay on the trail, pounding my fist into the dirt. I know I left an imrpint of Jen up on that mountain side that will wear away under foot and snow and wind but this mountain left an imprint on me. After being helped up, I tried to walk on my own and found this to be impossible. There was no stopping the tears of frustration, humiliation, fear, and pain. Matt and Jo helped me to the picnic table not far down the trail and we decided to take the steep, wider, more treacherous trail down in stead of the long, skinny, switch backs back. This way I could have a person on both sides to help me down. I had already started with 4 advil at the bottom and two at the top so I took 4 more and decided that swelling would probably not be a problem till tomorrow. The sun was still high in the sky but I knew even not having taken this route before that we probably would be lucky to get down by sunset. So, with Scott on one side, Jo on the other, Eric took my pack, and Matt testing trails and which path was the best choice we picked and proded our way slowly down. I'd like to forget this painful trek soon but attitudes were high, comments positive and if I had to be stuck in that situation, those were the people I wanted joking with me. We reached the parking lot AT sunset as I had predicted up at the picnic table, hungry and happy to be down with no more catastrophies. I tried to go to the Urgent Care clinic the next morning but they called my name at the time I needed to leave to go interpret at the high school. The nurse asked how I was going to get there and I told her they same way I got here, hobble my way back to the car and drive there. She kindly wheeled me to my car and off I went. After work, I tried again and got the same woman, we were good friends by now. My ankle was also twice the size it had been. No fractures showed on the x-rays but the doctor said that he assumed it was a torn achilles and a sprian. He said under no circumstance was I to hike for the next 6 weeks at least and if I aggrivated it at all and it ripped any more he would put me under the knife. He gave me "the boot" and put me on crutches and told me to stay off it as much as possible for 4 weeks. Tammy came to get me, I was in no mood to learn to drive left footed and didn't have crutches YET so we went to the pharmacy for pain killers and TURNING LEAF for crutches...did you know the local second hand store has stuff like this for loan??? For FREE!! Then I went home. The sun is still out. I have been to Big Lake twice this week, trying to enjoy the beautiful fall as much as I can with my limitations. I have been hiking once a week with my friend Carrie, but she offered to find a beautiful place to sit in the sun instead. I have learned that just because I'm down, I'm definitely not out. We watched an amazing sunset while a bank of fog litterally rolled in, with denali standing tall to our right on a lake as still as glass with bright red salmon swimming slowly below us. Fall is still awe inspiring here and I am still enjoying it.

1 comment:

  1. Jen I can't tell you how much I enjoy your wonderfully descriptive prose. So sorry about your ankle - will this give you more reflective time? Keep them coming.