Last Saturday morning Julie and I discussed the my planned backpacking trip. I got up at 4:00 AM to check the weather. It was raining. By 5:00 AM the rain had turned to snow. The forecast called for cold, wind, more rain and snow. At we talked Julie made the comment "I don't understand why you want to go in weather like this".
Why? I answered her question quickly but I've thought about it more.
Camaraderie. Todd and I always have a great time. He's a good partner with experience, knowledge and a good even disposition and demeanor. I like his company and enjoy backpacking with him.
Challenge. I enjoy challenges in which I may succeed or may fail. Success isn't the goal. It's the challenge of trying. There's not much challenge on warm sunny days on level ground.
Memories. Recently I heard the old saying that people near the end of their lives regret not the things they did but the things they didn't do. I want memories, not regrets. I learned long ago to never wait for perfect weather.
Endorphins. The first 15 minutes of any trip is generally the toughest. After those few minutes my breathing settles, any stiffness in my legs disappears and I feel great and grateful to be alive and doing what I'm doing.
Beauty. During "bad" weather when it rains, snows or is windy I see beauty I don't see on good weather days. Dry waterfalls begin flowing, the light glistens off leaves and snow drifts, dust and sand make fragile patterns, clouds hide the tops of hills and create a sense of mystery.
Accomplishment. Valuable things come only with hard work. I appreciate the sense of struggling and working hard to accomplish a goal.
Health. I try to exercise regularly but one hour of walking on level ground or slight grades each day doesn't compare to climbing 3,600 feet in four hours while carrying a pack. I feel the effect when I reach the top but during the next week I feel healthier, stronger, better.
Balance. I live in a safe world that's heated, air-conditioned, dry and predictable. Evolution didn't prepare me for this sterile artificial world. Doing a trip in bad weather gives me a sense of balance in my life that makes a warm bath followed by a good meal with Julie much better.
I can think of other reasons but in the end the answer to why is because I enjoy it.
1 marks the left point of Horsehoe Mesa; 2 marks the location of Cave of the Domes; 3 marks the trail down to Cottonwood Creek; 4 marks our camp site at Cottonwood Creek.
The day was partly sunny and windy with a chill factor that required gloves. There was a few inches of snow on the rim. On our trip to and from the trail head we passed small herds of elk grazing under Ponderosa. The snow on the trees, the elk and the light filtering through the trees created a memorable scene.
Todd near the top of the Grandview Trail. After descending about 400 feet in elevation we came to the end of the snow.
Todd at a narrow section on the left end of Horseshoe Mesa. We went to the end where we had to back. At the narrow section it was possible to stand in one position and look down both sides several hundred feet.
Todd is signing the register in the cave of the domes. The cave was a surprise and seemed out of place. It is about 100 feet below the top of the mesa and is accessed by a drain which leads to a ledge that arrives at the cave after a few hundred feet.
Todd exiting Cave of the Domes. The cave is dusty. In addition to an ammo box containing a register there are remains of candles and string leading to deeper sections of the cave.
Cottonwood Creek is about 3,600 feet below the rim of the canyon and 1,100 feet below the point where the photo was taken. After taking the photo we hiked about two and one-half miles to get to our campsite beside the small six-inch-wide stream that flows from a spring. The temperature dropped to 36 degrees at 7:00 AM the next morning. When we arrived at the rim later in the day it was snowing lightly and the temperature was 35 degrees.
Todd with a stuffed rabbit. As he set up his tent he discovered the rabbit. Apparently his six year old daughter put it in the bottom of his pack without his knowledge.