Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"No Country for These Old Men:" The Narrows

The Narrows

Every hike Dangerous takes me on has its unique challenges. Usually, he forgets to mention the cliff I am expected to scale or the deep water over my head. It isn't just me that he doesn't always fully inform. I suspect that none of us would go with him if he was completely forthcoming.

The Gulch Narrows presents an interesting challenge for a four footed critter like me. How does a sheep dog climb a nearly vertical sandstone wall? More to the point, how do four aging seniors get a 55 pound sheep dog, four 40 pound packs, and themselves to the top without serious injury? Based on firsthand experience, I can tell you it isn't easy. My toe nail scratches are permanently etched in the sandstone wall we climbed to bypass the Gulch Narrows. Dangerous and his buddies never use the alternative route through the Narrows; because, as you can see, hikers face not only broken limbs from a fall, but possible drowning.

Climbing the Log

Dangerous got the call to climb the log first and anchor the chain to ferry the packs and me to the top. He didn't go first due to his unique rock climbing or leadership skills, but because he was standing closest to the log when we stopped. Also, the others thought I might be more willing to follow him up since I live with year round. Those guys must think I am stupid or something. Who in their right mind would trust a 62 year old senior citizen to help them free-climb a cliff? Well, It wasn't a matter of trust, but, brute force that got me to the top. Dangerous climbed up, and the others pushed me up the rock, followed by the packs. After me and the packs, the other seniors scrambled up with the help of my dog leash. Since I am a dog and not a cat, I couldn't climb the log, but you can easily see the scratch marks I left in the sandstone even with the help I received. Enlarge the picture below if you don't believe me.

Up We Go!

Scratches in the Rock

Once on top, the real struggle started. Packs were shouldered, and we climbed to the rim. I am not sure if Sir Edmund Hillary actually climbed Mt. Everest, but if he did, I suspect he didn't huff and puff as much as my buddies. At anytime, I expected an old, overweight geezer to collapse with a coronary. Maybe that's why it took us almost three days to hike the 12.5 miles to the river that ten years ago took one day. Well, you must credit their effort, but I won't praise their route finding skills. Once on top, they stumbled around for hours looking for a way down. This hike was my first trip down the Gulch, so I shouldn't be expected to know the trail. Dangerous has probably hiked it at least four times, and the others have all been on the trail before. After stumbling around for hours, I thought about using one of Denver Dan's many gadgets to signal for help; but finally, they found the exit trail by accident. With lots of blank stares and questions, my aging companions struggled to remember the route they had hiked in previous years, but couldn't find today.

Exit Trail

In the following blog, I have posted additional pictures below the Narrows. I hope the picture captions give you some understanding of what it's like trailing these four characters. You don't have to ask them to pose in the various strange positions you see. Usually, they collapse into contorted piles from age and fatigue. Love to hear from you!

1 comment:

Becca Hatch said...

Oh, admit it. You had fun.