June 1, 2012

sleeping at the summit

tent on the rocky open summit of Hadley Mtn
my dad on the tower at sunset
I have climbed Hadley Mountain more times that I have kept track...in all of the seasons and with many different combinations of people.  It is close to home, is a great open summit as well as a relatively easy climb but early in the season it is enough of a challenge that it helps get you back in climbing shape.  On most of the hikes up Hadley my father is alongside of me and we have often talked about camping on the mountain for a night.  Just to say we did.  The weather looked too good to be true and so on a whim my father and I grabbed our equipment and a couple of freeze dried meals and headed up to Fire Tower Road.  At 5:10pm we signed into the trail head with hopes of making it to the top by 7:00pm with our "full packs".  Sunset was scheduled for 8:21pm.  Normally I wouldn't think it was such a great idea to climb this mountain with an additional 20+ pound pack on my back....but photographing and experiencing a sunset and sunrise in person on this mountain was motivating.  The beginnings of black fly season and their swarms kept me pushing ahead.  Strangely we made it to the summit in the same amount of time it usually takes us with just a day pack, which reassures me that my plan for a 4 night 26 mile July backpack is not too adventurous for this pair of hikers who have not maintained the level of fitness that is optimal for the rugged trails of the most remote high peaks.   At 6:30pm we had plenty of time to set up camp.  My father suggested setting up the tent below the summit near the observers cabin.  I on the other hand made the case for sleeping on the mountain should mean at the summit.  So a nice flat soft mossy area at the base of the tower was chosen for the site.  Dinner was quickly prepared in the new GSI Dualist cookware I got for Christmas.  We had coffee and chocolate chip cookies as the sun began to set while a comfortable breeze blew just enough to keep the bugs away. 
It was perfectly quiet; serene.  The sunset's beauty cannot be accurately captured by the camera...or at least by this operator of the camera.  No photograph can relay or evoke the same spiritual feeling that is produced by actually being in the moment.  It is the feeling that would be priceless if we could somehow bottle it and save it for later...when we can't break away from the real world and it's demands.   After a night of little sleeping and mostly listening the wind flap the parachute-like tent rain fly....seeing the sunrise over the misty fog between the rolling mountains to the east completed the awesomeness!  We packed up and started down the mountain at 6:30am...a 12 hour adventure.